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Medical group cites DOTS free services vs tuberculosis

SAN JOSE, Antique (PIA) -- Free medical services for the testing and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) can be availed by the public through Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) in different Rural Health Units (RHUs).

This was clarified by Dr. Helarose Mendoza-Elisterio of the Antique Medical Society (AMS) in a press conference, March 30, intended to promote tuberculosis awareness, the means of detection and treatment and public conversation in a bid to end the stigma associated with TB.

Dr. Mendoza-Elisterio, a member of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), said that a patient, once enrolled in the DOTS program, may avail of free medication for the entire duration of treatment which typically spans for six months.

She also stressed the importance of following prescriptions and completing the course of medication since skipping doses can lead to the TB infection becoming resistant, hence becoming more difficult and requiring more time to treat.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by germs that are spread from one person to another through the air,  by means of sneezing, coughing, and even speaking, which are contrary to the common belief that it is spread through surface contact, such as a handshake, touching bed linens, and sharing food utensils, among others.

Transmission occurs when a person inhales the air with tuberculosis germs, through the respiratory tract, until it reaches the lungs, which is why medical practitioners advocate for cough etiquette, like covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

Although it usually affects the lungs, TB can affect other vital parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, or spine, hence the need to seek diagnosis and early treatment when symptoms are observed – night sweats, chills, fever, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, pain in the chest, and the presence of blood or sputum when coughing.  

Further, with many undiagnosed cases and infected individuals not being aware of their condition to transmit TB germs, part of the efforts against the disease is to stop the spread by protecting those who are at greater risk,

especially those with previous infection, severe kidney disease, organ transplants, diabetes, neck or head cancer, low body weight, and others.

As the country joins the world in observing March 24 as World Tuberculosis Day, the AMS intends to contribute to ensuring that TB patients have access to quality diagnostic tests, effective medication, and a supportive and non-discriminatory community.

In Antique, based on the 2022 report of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), the Case Notification Rate (CNR) is 76%, while the Treatment Success Rate (TSR) is 93%, with Dr. Mendoza-Elisterio saying that TB is curable through early detection and complete medication. (AAL/BPS/PIA Antique)

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Bernard Ceasar Susbilla

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Region 6

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