DOH 7: TB cases on the rise

DOH 7: TB cases on the rise
(Image from Anna Shvets of Pexels)

DESPITE free medicines and treatment, cases of tuberculosis (TB) continued to rise in 2023, as the social stigma attached to the disease hindered people from seeking medical attention from health professionals even if symptoms such as excessive cough and unexplained weight loss began to manifest.

Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) Director Jaime Bernadas said in a press conference on Friday, May 3, 2024, that the public continues to perceive persistent cough and unexplained weight loss as a “normal phenomenon.”

In 2023, Central Visayas recorded 36,758 cases of TB. Of this number, 86 percent or 24,749 patients were cured or have completed the medication, according to Ronald Jarvik Buscato, DOH 7 head of Communicable Diseases Section.

The remaining 14 percent of patients who have not completed medication is a concern as it will result in them developing their TB disease into a drug-resistant case, Bernadas said.

Bernadas stressed that TB is a highly contagious disease and can be fatal if left untreated.

“TB is really misunderstood by our people. They think TB is normal because if you ask a person if he has cough, the usual answer is yes I have, Doc. But cough is natural,” Bernadas said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Bernadas clarified that there is no natural or normal cough without being associated with any disease such as TB. There are also cases when patients failed to complete or neglected their six-month medication.

The DOH has been providing free diagnostics such as X-rays, free consultations and medication to eradicate the disease under the Tuberculosis Directly-Observed Treatment Short Course (TB-DOTS) program, which can be availed of in barangay health centers across the country.

Cases

Cebu City logged first in the most number of reported cases among highly urbanized areas at 7,850; followed by Lapu-Lapu City at 3,163; while Mandaue City had 2,463 cases in 2023, Buscato said.

He said most cases are logged in crowded and urbanized areas due to the dense population susceptible to TB as a high-risk contagious diseases.

Buscato said TB cases in 2023 were higher by five to ten percent compared to 2022.

In the provinces, Cebu logged first at 11,943 followed by Negros Oriental at 6,643; Bohol at 4,443, and Siquijor with 253 cases.

Most TB cases recorded occurred in people 18-50 years old.

Buscato said TB has two kinds, drug-susceptible and multi-drug resistant. The first kind can be cured by first-line drugs for up to six months and the second requires 18 to 24 months of treatment via second-line drugs.

“To simply put it bluntly, TB is a very fatal disease if not treated early, and at the same time it poses health problems in the community because it is a very contagious disease, as it will not only affect the patient himself but also his family members and the community,” Buscato said.

Buscato said once the bacteria causing TB enters the body, it takes time to manifest its symptoms which include excessive coughing, unexplained weight loss for two weeks, high fever, and night sweats.

The disease can spread through air droplets.

Once diagnosed, the patient has to undergo continuous medication for six months. Despite being contagious, patients can return to work and do any social activity if he has taken medication for at least two weeks. / EHP

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