LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has urged the public, particularly those experiencing tuberculosis (TB) symptoms, to consult the nearest facility and get tested as the latest pandemic has discouraged patients from seeking treatment.
Dr. Jannish Alcala-Arellano, National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) regional coordinator, said on Thursday that TB is one of the top 10 causes of mortality in the Bicol Region.
“While TB is preventable and curable, and that TB tests and medicines are free, it is still necessary to complete a treatment regimen to avoid drug resistance,” she added in a statement.
She also noted the disruptions caused by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic to the NTP, such as the restrictions in the accessibility of patients to TB services and the worries that come with going to health facilities in fear of being infected led to the region not being able to reach the target number of 25,486 TB cases, recording only 16,095 patients.
“The public is urged to be more informed about TB, as well as to practice good respiratory hygiene to prevent its spread. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and primarily affects the lungs,” she added.
Other parts of the body, including the bones, meninges, joints, intestines, liver, kidneys, and heart, may also be affected by tuberculosis.
DOH Bicol also added that when an individual is infected with the bacteria through air droplets when a person with TB coughs or sneezes, signs and symptoms may include cough for two weeks or more, fever, chest or back pain, loss of weight, and blood-streaked sputum.
Arellano also reminded the public that to prevent both Covid-19 and TB, with their similar symptoms, it is essential to practice social distancing, good respiratory hygiene measures, and handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (PNA)