By Liezelle Soriano
Photo Courtesy: PNA
MANILA — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. urges the Department of Health (DOH) to prioritize fighting against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis infections aside from fighting COVID-19.
“Let’s start refocusing again on the general public health concerns. Siyempre COVID has not come away. [We] still have to deal with it but let’s not deal with COVID… at the expense of all these other public health concerns,” Marcos said in a meeting with DOH officials on Tuesday.
During their discussion, the President inquired about the DOH’s TB-DOTS initiative, which aims to eradicate tuberculosis in the nation, from Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire of the DOH.
In order to implement the primary care program that incorporates TB-DOTS, Vergeire informed the President that the DOH has grown more creative and is currently traveling the nation.
Because of its high transmissibility, tuberculosis has reemerged, and it typically affects members of the lower socioeconomic strata of society, Vergeire said.
The health official also said there are a lot of multi-drug resistant cases of TB because people can still buy anti-TB medicines over the counter.
“So, for example, they have prescriptions that will be given by doctors who just need them… medicines for just one, two months, they will not finish their medicines and they become resistant,” Vergeire said.
Meanwhile, with regard to HIV, Vergeire said the DOH gained headway prior to COVID-19 but encountered hurdles during the pandemic because of state-imposed curbs.
Cases rose during the pandemic as a result of the restrictions, which prevented people from undergoing HIV screenings, she said.
“People were not able to go for screening, were not able to get their medicines because of the lockdowns, so what we did during the time of pandemic, we were already sending per individual or per patient ‘yung kanilang mga gamot through LBC para lang makainom sila ng gamot,” Vergeire said.