DOH: Lower number of reported TB cases due to COVID-19 pandemic
MANILA, Philippines – The dwindling number of reported tuberculosis (TB) cases is not necessarily “good news” as it was a direct effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the coronavirus pandemic affected and limited the “health-seeking behavior” of Filipinos.
“We see this as a direct effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on a critical disease prevention and control program like TB,” Duque said in a DOH statement.
The Health secretary said, unlike other health programs, a decline in the number of cases for tuberculosis “is not an indicator of success.”
“Our goal for our TB program is to find and treat as many TB cases as possible. Only by finding and treating these cases can we limit the spread and achieve our dream of a TB-free Philippines,” Duque added.
Duque added that the pandemic quarantine hindered the DOH initiatives to find, test, and treat TB cases in health facilities and communities alike.
The National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) registered almost a 20% drop in the number of cases from February to March — 30,728 cases in February and 24,782 in March.
The DOH meanwhile, encouraged patients who are enrolled for TB treatment in government facilities to secure their one month supply of anti-TB medication as TB patients have a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Last year, the World Health Organization reported that an estimated 591,000 Filipinos contracted Tuberculosis which accounted for 6% of the 10 million global total Tuberculosis cases. (Jim Mendoza, Trainee)
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