PATIENTS undergoing treatment for tubercolosis (TB) may now take home a one-month supply of medicines instead of going to health facilities for their daily intakes, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Tuesday, March 24.
Duque said he has issued a memorandum mandating health workers in TB clinics to allow “enrolled patients to take home one month supply of anti-TB medications” during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
“Those with TB are at higher risk of getting Covid-19. We are rolling out measures for their uninterrupted regimen,” Duque said.
Old age, malnutrition, heavy smoking, weak immune system, being a person living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV), and chronic conditions like diabetes and renal disease increase the risk for people to become vulnerable to both Covid-19 and TB, the agency said.
“In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we should not lose sight of other infectious and pandemic diseases, especially TB,” Duque said.
He also said that when an individual who goes to a health facility for respiratory symptoms and has any of the risk factors but tests negative for Covid-19, he or she should be considered presumptive for TB.
Since January, 37,500 patients have started their treatment regimen. There were 330,000 Filipinos who are enrolled for TB treatment in 2019.
“To protect our health workers and TB patients from Covid-19 infection, we will enforce a home-based strategy in which a family member will support the patient in taking his or her medicines,” said Duque.
“We salute our health workers who have gone more than the extra mile during this challenging period,” he added.
At least six to nine months of daily treatment is needed by a TB patient.
The government aims to reduce TB deaths by 15 percent from an estimated 26,000 in 2018 to 22,000 in 2023. (SunStar Philippines)