South Cotabato lists 200 new TB cases

The provincial capitol of South Cotabato in Koronadal City. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 30 May) – Health personnel in South Cotabato have detected nearly 200 new cases of tuberculosis (TB) in the past several months as it continued to expand its active case-finding and surveillance activities in the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, Jr., head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, said Monday they have deployed mobile teams down to the barangay level to conduct massive free chest X-rays for TB case detection.

He said their teams have so far catered to around 1,000 residents, with 20 percent or about 200 turning out positive for the disease.

“This means that we have many residents who are experiencing this illness but were not detected probably because of misinformation and inaccessibility to diagnostic services and treatment,” he said during the weekly convocation program at the provincial capitol.

The official said their teams from the infectious disease program are trying to reach the remotest areas in the province using a mobile X-ray van provided by their partners Maranao People Development Center Inc. or Maradeca and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

He said the provincial government is waiting for the arrival of the mobile X-ray van with sputum testing laboratory that it acquired to further expand the ongoing case-finding and surveillance.

Aturdido said they are set to deploy ultra-portable chest X-ray machines to augment these activities.

The machines were provided by the United States Agency for International Development and the Stop TB Partnership under the global initiative “Introducing New Tools Project.”

“Our technicians can carry the machines in their backpack and bring them to our remote barangays and communities,” he said.

Aturdido earlier said the province’s treatment success rate for TB was 95 percent but the case detection rate was only 56 percent.

Since last year, the IPHO already catered to around 3,000 residents for the free chest X-ray in partnership with Maradeca and PBSP.

In March 2020, it reported to have detected nearly 600 new TB cases in its surveillance activities with PBSP.

At least 23 percent or 305 of the first batch of 1,329 residents who availed of the X-ray services then were found positive for TB while 19 percent or 294 of the 1,550 tested in the second batch were also found infected.

Aturdido added that they are working on the purchase of additional medicines for TB as supplies at the provincial and municipal health offices are already limited.

“We’re now reviewing our (fund) utilization and moving for an emergency purchase,” he said.(Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)