Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that commonly affect the lungs. It is spread from a TB patient to another person through the air when he/she coughs, sneezes or spits. Symptoms are cough of more than two weeks, loss of weight, fever, chest pain or spiting with blood. A TB patient may infect 10- 15 persons per year. It is usually an illness of adults but it can also affect children. TB is curable and preventable.
In the Philippines, TB is a major health problem. It is the sixth leading cause of death and illness. In 2011, WHO estimates there are 260 000 incident cases in the country, and 28 000 die in a year. TB prevalence is high among the high risk groups such as the elderly, urban poor, smokers and those with compromised immune systems such as people living with HIV, malnutrition and diabetes. It is estimated that 10 600 patients have multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) in 2011. This situation leads to substantial socio-economic losses to the country.
Under the National TB Control Program (NTP), the country aims to detect 85% of TB patients and successfully treat at least 90% of them.
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Woojin Lew, MD, MSc, PhD
Stop TB and Leprosy Elimination