30 percent of Pinoys with TB do not seek treatment

Published by rudy Date posted on March 25, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Around 30 percent of some 450,000 Filipinos with tuberculosis do not get treatment, primarily for fear of stigma associated with the disease.

According to Dr. Thelma Tupasi, head of the Tropical Disease Foundation, around one-third percent of TB patients do not avail of the medicine even if they are offered for free in some health clinics.

These patients, she said, prefer to self-medicate or not do anything at all, exposing themselves to complications.

Tupasi warned that TB patients who do not complete treatment are in danger of developing multi-drug resistant TB, the treatment of which is more expensive and prolonged.

Dr. Michael Voniatis, medical officer of the World Health Organization (WHO), noted that “cultural barriers including the fear of stigma” prevent TB patients from seeking treatment.

But Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, director of the Department of Health’s (DOH) National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, claimed that this should not be the case because TB is curable if patients would only undergo proper and adequate treatment.

Oliveros added that TB patients should not be complacent because TB could lead to various complications and even death in severe cases.

The Philippines ranked 22nd among the countries burdened with TB, down from its previous standing at 7th and 9th place.

The prevalence rate is pegged at 500 per 100,000.

The country observed World TB Day yesterday with calls from health officials not to be guided by misconceptions about the illness.–Sheila Crisostomo, Philippine Star

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