Philhealth to provide financial assistance to ease suffering due to TB

THE Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) has vowed to  provide financial assistance to its members to suppress the spread of tuberculosis (TB), the world’s deadliest contagious disease that claims the lives of 75 Filipinos every day.

Dr. Eduardo Banzon, Philhealth president and chief executive officer, said ‘”we are providing ample outpatient financial support to members and their dependents under our Directly-Observed Therapy Short Course or DOTS package for TB.”Dr. Eduardo Banzon.

“We are absolutely determined to help lessen the human suffering associated with TB, the sixth leading cause of illness and death in the country,” said Banzon.

Banzon echoed the warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) that TB, if left unchecked, could become 200 times costlier to treat and nearly impossible to cure in the years ahead, amid outbreaks of multi-drug-resistant cases in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Philippines now ranks seventh worldwide in TB incidence, after India, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, according to the WHO’s latest Report on Global TB Control.

Last year, he said Philhealth subsidized to the tune of around P23 million the treatment and care of 10,822 members and their dependents who underwent the DOTS for TB.

In DOTS, the patient gets uninterrupted supply of drugs. Either a family member or a health worker supervises the patient’s medicine intake, and treatment outcome is monitored.

“Philhealth pays for the entire six-month treatment, including the diagnostic work-up, consultation services and drugs provided upon enrollment in the DOTS,” Banzon said.

He said Philhealth members and their dependents with confirmed pulmonary and extra-pulmonary TB may enroll in the DOTS through any of the more than 800 private and public health facilities nationwide.

The Philippines has pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by United Nations members “to reduce poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation” by 2015.

The goals include eliminating TB and other major diseases, with clear-cut targets.

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board’s MDG Watch, instead of decreasing, the country’s “prevalence associated with TB” actually increased over the last two decades from 246 to 273 per 100,000 population. The definite MDG target is “zero prevalence associated with TB by 2015.”

“Prevalence” refers to the number of new and previously occurring cases that exists at any given time.

On the brighter side, the country’s “death rate associated with TB” declined over the last decade from 39 to 30 per 100,000. The specific MDG objective is “zero death rate associated with TB by 2015.”

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