More males are prone to TB infection, says TB LINC
by Venus G. Villanueva
Kalibo, Aklan (28 June) -- More males were found to be infected by tuberculosis compared to women, according to Dr. Pilar F. Mabasa of TB LINC Visayas.
Dr. Mabasa disclosed this information during the 1st Aklan TB Council Meeting and Updates in TB Control Program held recently at the Conference Room of the Provincial Governor's Hall here.
According to Dr. Mabasa, more males were found infected with TB because of they are the ones working for the family.
"TB is highest among family breadwinners. Infection is also highest among urban poor dwellers. They are also "poor" health seekers," Dr. Mabasa said.
By "poor" health seekers, Dr. Mabasa explained that workers put off seeking health advices or consultation because they think that if they stop working even for a day, they will have no money to buy their daily needs.
Of Filipinos infected with TB, only 32% went to health providers, according to TB LINC data.
"There is also a significant increase in people infected with TB who self medicate, from 24.4% in 1997 to 43.4% in 2007. Only 28.8% of them used their Philhealth benefits," Dr. Mabasa said.
Meanwhile, Adelfa Cordova, PHO TB Coordinator disclosed that in 2009, 87 Aklanons died of TB.
Of the figure, Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez, chair of the Provincial TB Council, said the PHO should try to find out how many of the dead were "sacadas" or those working in other provinces to cut sugarcane for sugar centrals.
"Sacadas" according to him, are more prone to TB because they work rain or shine for long hours and with minimal food. For future files, the governor said occupations of persons who died of TB should be recorded by the PHO.
Dr. Mabasa said it is hard to monitor the health or the movements of "sacadas" as they move to other places during off-season, so it is hard to treat them, further spreading the disease to those they mingle with as they move.
Dr. Mabasa said people who have had coughs for 2 weeks should seek consultation from the nearest health centers or hospitals. The most reliable TB examination, according to her is Direct Sputum Smear Examination, and not Xrays.
It was assured in the meeting that TB drugs, including those for children, are available in health centers, while private physicians were assured that they could refer their poor patients to the centers to avail of free medicines.
Daily, 75 people die of TB, according to Dr. Mabasa. TB ranks 6th in terms of the country's leading cause of morbidity. It affects 63% of Filipinos 20 to 54 years old.
To strengthen the province's fight against TB, Governor Marquez said more medical technologists will be hired to go around Aklan and conduct tests and disseminate information about the disease, and assist in the Directly Observed Treatment implemented by municipalities. (PIA) [top]