Tuberculosis response continues amid COVID-19

MABALACAT CITY — Department of Health (DOH) National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) continued its purpose to reduce tuberculosis cases in the country amid the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

In an Online Regional Media Forum organized by DOH and the United States Agency for International Development TB Platforms in partnership with Philippine Information Agency, Mabalacat City Rural Health Unit 1 physician Ann Mary Tolentino said health workers pursued to eliminate tuberculosis despite its symptoms being closely related to COVID-19.

“We did not stop in profiling and case finding presumptive tuberculosis patients in spite of uncertainties like ‘what if it’s COVID-19’,” Tolentino said.

For them to adapt to the health protocols and to ensure the health workers’ well-being, they came up with a solution in dealing with probable cases of either tuberculosis or COVID-19.

“The solution we agreed with is that after assessing the patients in their barangays, they are transported to the Main Health Centers where the doctors are available for further check-up using the barangay service,” Tolentino added.

Moreover, there are no delays when it comes to the assessment done by the experts.

“Here in Mabalacat City, there are times when health workers from Magalang, Pampanga also bring their specimens for assessment, and we make sure that we give them back without delays,” she furthered.

In addition, Tolentino said there are three ways the patients can choose from in the provision of their medications. 

“Since we are patient-centered, the medications of the patients can be done in three ways, first is, medicines are given to the patient’s relative every two weeks and the relative in-charge assures to help the patient take the medicines; second, the barangay health worker personally bring and help the patient take the medicines and; last is through videocall treatment where the patient communicates with our nurses to make our patients feel that they are not left behind,” she enumerated.

Furthermore, Tolentino recommended that in dealing with tuberculosis patients, health workers should not only focus on the physical treatment of the patient but also on his or her emotional and mental health.

“Our patients need priority not only on the physical aspect but also on the emotional and mental aspect to encourage them continue their medications,” she stated.