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LAOAG CITY, Philippines – Higher cases of tuberculosis (TB) in the Ilocos Region have been logged this 2023 compared to last year, with more children getting sick of the deadly disease, the regional Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, December 8.
Data from the DOH showed that the Ilocos Region had recorded a total of 18,512 TB cases from January 1 to December 4, 2023 – a 6.7% increase compared to the 17,349 cases logged in the same period in 2022.
The DOH also said that they had detected more children infected with the disease this year, with 1,824 cases, compared to the 1,448 in 2022.
It also said that Pangasinan had the highest number of TB cases among the provinces in the region this 2023, with 11,949, followed by La Union with 3,226, Ilocos Sur with 2,181, and Ilocos Norte with 1,156.
Majority of the cases involved adults who suffered from low immunity, the DOH earlier said.
Cases which are considered as “drug resistant” were comparatively lower this year with 290 cases, compared to the 349 in 2022.
The World Health Organization earlier noted that Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), which is caused by an organism that is resistant to the two most potent TB drugs, continued to be a “public health crisis and a health security threat.”
The rise in cases prompted health authorities to strengthen its efforts to combat the spread of the disease after DOH-Ilocos Region received a Konsultayo mobile van clinic donation under the ACCESS TB project of the Philippine Business for Social Progress.
The DOH said that it was a part of an initiative to achieve a “better health system for the country” under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
As the critical need to timely screen, diagnose, and treat TB cases had received a setback in the region because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that mobile van clinic would be a boost to the region’s TB program.
In a statement, DOH regional director Pauala Paz Sydiongco said that the DOH, together with its partners in the local government and nongovernmental organizations, aim to undertake a “massive screening activity.”
The mobile van clinic would allow health personnel in the region to reach even remote areas to “seek and treat TB cases,” added Sydiongco, as she noted that the number of cases are likely to increase as the regional DOH would intensify its case-finding efforts.
Among the services that would be provided by the mobile van clinic are “free chest X-ray, specimen collection and transportation, electrocardiogram (ECG), and other primary care services” – free of charge.
The DOH said that the van is aimed to reach out to far-flung areas across the region, but it would prioritize areas with a high number of cases based on DOH data.
Sydiongco said that the van would also prioritize local government units having a hard time with their case-finding efforts.
The DOH said that the Konsultayo van will start going around the region by January 2024 as they would need to fix protocols and scheduling. LGUs are advised to coordinate with the regional DOH to ensure that Konsultayo services would be “maximized” if they visit their areas.
Sydiongco underscored the importance of seeking and treating TB cases to stop the transmission of the disease.
Last year, TB was the 10th leading cause of death among Filipinos, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. – Rappler.com