DOH to shorten TB treatment by 3rd quarter of 2023
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said that it will shorten the treatment for tuberculosis (TB) to four months for drug-susceptible infections and six months for drug-resistant cases within the third quarter of 2023.
Currently, TB treatment takes nine to 12 months for patients infected with the respiratory disease.
“We want to actually implement this short-course 4-month therapy by the third quarter of 2023 … the WHO has recommended us to adopt the 4-month treatment regimens, which is two months certain list of drugs and another two months of a different set of drugs,” said Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa in a press briefing.
“This is for the regular drug-susceptible tuberculosis, then meron tayong (then we have) 6-month regiment for the drug-resistant tuberculosis kasi iyon ang dumadami (because that is what is spreading),” he added.
According to Herbosa, the said shortened period will address the fallout in treatments seen in longer regimens, specifically, cases where patients opted to stop taking their medications once their symptoms have lessened.
“This shorter therapy I think will give us better success of really stopping this treatment and para hindi na magkahawaan (so that it won’t spread),” said Herbosa.
Presidential Directives on Tuberculosis action officer Dr. Keziah Lorraine Rosario echoed Herbosa’s pronouncements adding the DOH is set to release its guidelines for the shortened treatment.
“[This] will really ensure that patients who’re undergoing the treatment course will have a shorter span of intake, so therefore, falling out of the treatment course will be lessened,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Herbosa said that the DOH will enhance its TB case-finding using new technologies and innovations.
“One of the important things in a really good TB program is not only giving the treatment to those who have TB but finding new cases, or what we call active-case finding,” said Herbosa partly in Filipino.
Rosario said that the Philippines is the fourth country that accounts for two-thirds of the estimated TB infections worldwide, and is one of the countries contributing the highest number of TB deaths globally.