Tuberculosis remains one of major causes of death in PH

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

August 18, 2023, 4:39 pm

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said tuberculosis is still one of the 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines despite the availability of treatment.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that 15,689 out of 563,465 recorded deaths among Filipinos from January to November 2022 were categorized under respiratory tuberculosis.

"From the period of January to December 2022, tuberculosis was noted as the 10th leading cause of death among Filipinos and the number of cases of tuberculosis in all forms according to FHSIS [Field Health Services Information System] 2022 is 119,558," DOH's Health Promotion Bureau officer Dr. Alfonso Regala said in a media forum.

The other leading causes of deaths in the country last year according to mortality rate were ischemic heart diseases (103,628), cerebrovascular diseases (57,411), neoplasms (57,354), diabetes mellitus (35,712), hypertensive diseases (32,339), pneumonia (27,261), chronic lower respiratory diseases (18,514), other heart diseases (18,489), and remainder of diseases of the genitourinary system (15,806).

Regala explained that tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis which usually affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis) but it can also damage other parts of the body like the bones and the brain (extrapulmonary tuberculosis).

"Kumakalat ang mikrobiyo ng tuberculosis sa hangin kapag umuubo, nagsasalita o kumakanta ang infected person (The tuberculosis bacteria spread in the air when an infected person coughs, speaks, or sings)," he said. "Maaaring malanghap ng mga taong nasa malapit ang mikrobyong ito at mahawa (People who are near may inhale the bacteria and get infected)."

Individuals who have weak immune system -- babies, young children, people living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), persons who have diabetes, silicosis, cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease and kidney disease -- and are underweight are prone to having tuberculosis.

Symptoms include coughing, high fever at night, sweating at night, chest pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing up blood and getting tired easily.

It can be diagnosed through direct sputum smear microscopy, chest X-ray and Gene Xpert.

"What we endorse is prevention other than treatment, it's important for us to follow healthy habits that includes eating right, exercising and adequate hydration," Regala said.

He advised individuals with tuberculosis symptoms to consult a doctor immediately and to take all the prescribed medications to avoid developing a drug-resistant type of the disease that may affect the community.

The DOH endorses the directly-observed treatment short course (DOTS) which could last from six to 10 months to reduce the number of tuberculosis cases in the country. (PNA)