DOH warns TB patients vs. going out daily amid Covid-19 threat

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged on Tuesday Filipinos undergoing treatment for active tuberculosis (TB) disease to secure a month’s supply of their free medicines to prevent going to health facilities daily.

In a statement, Duque said this is in light of the enhanced community quarantine enforced in Luzon and other parts of the country due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The Department of Health (DOH) has issued a Department Memorandum mandating health workers in government TB clinics to allow “enrolled patients to take home one-month supply of anti-TB medications”.

The DOH reported that about 37,500 patients received their treatment regimen since the start of 2020 while close to 330,000 Filipinos were enrolled for TB treatment in 2019.

“Those with TB are at higher risk of getting Covid-19. We are rolling out measures for their uninterrupted regimen,” Duque said.

Old age, malnutrition, heavy smoking, weak immune system, being a person living with human immunodeficiency virus, and chronic conditions like diabetes and renal disease makes a person more vulnerable to Covid-19 and TB.

Duque reminded the public not to overlook other infectious and pandemic diseases like TB amid the continuing threat of Covid-19 as it kills more people globally than other infectious diseases like Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), measles, and Covid-19.

“To protect our health workers and TB patients from Covid-19 infection, we will enforce a home-based strategy in which a family member will support the patient in taking his or her medicines,” Duque said.

He added that patients should immediately inform their health care providers for any adverse side effects.

The DOH, together with the Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis, World Health Organization, and the United States Agency for International Development, also launched a new communication campaign to combat the disease dubbed #TBFreePH.

The campaign aims to increase conversations about TB and promote measures to eliminate the TB burden by 2035.

The end goal is to reduce TB deaths by 15 percent from an estimated 26,000 in 2018 to 22,000 in 2023.

Preventive measures against TB are similar to those recommended to halt the spread of Covid-19, including cough manners, hand hygiene, and infection control at home and workplaces. (PNA) Source: Philippines News Agency

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