If treated early and the six-month regimen completed, active pulmonary tuberculosis is curable. The Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) has proof of that as it declared nearly all its TB patients successfully treated.

Just as important as finishing the treatment therapy is seeing a healthcare provider especially if a person has been suffering from cough for more than two weeks, according to Dr Larry Hara, an internal medicine specialist of the BGHMC, who was quoted by the Philippine Information Agency.

“We continue to encourage people suffering from two weeks of continuous cough to immediately seek medical attention from the nearest health facility so that they will be provided with the appropriate diagnosis and to detect whether or not they are suffering from tuberculosis,” Dr Haya was quoted as saying.

About 90 percent of the hospital's TB patients have been declared cured after completing the six-month treatment, to illustrate success if therapy is not discontinued.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) has adopted a TB-DOTS (Direct Observed Treatment Short-course) approach against tuberculosis, where patients are provided free medication but must come in to a health station daily to receive them so they are closely monitored by a health worker.

PhilHealth, the state health insurer, said it pays Php 4,000 for the entire six-month treatment which includes diagnostic work-up, consultation services and drugs provided for or after enrolment into the DOTS.”

Dr Haya exhorted patients undergoing treatment to continue with the medication for the entire duration of therapy until they are eventually declared healed.

Non-continuation of treatment often leads to drug resistance, which is more expensive and takes longer to treat.

The BGHMC specialist added they have seen an increase in the number of TB patients coming in for treatment and this is largely due to an improved education drive. From 90 in the previous year, there are now 140 TB patients.

The DOH recently revealed that about 1 million Filipino are expected to have tuberculosis in 2017, based on projections using the 2016 National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey (NTSP). The prevalence rate for 2016 is at 1,159 per 100,000, with majority of cases among males.

The report also indicated that there was no sign of a decline in TB prevalence.

It particularly identified smoking as a major risk, as well as age, previous treatment, diabetes and socioeconomic factors such as enrolment in the 4Ps programme and living in urban dwellings. MIMS

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