The Daily Manila Shimbun


Health department pushing for EO to eliminate commercial sources of TB drugs

August 17, 2017

To stop cases of drug resistant tuberculosis, the health department will treat TB as an exclusive mandate of the government through an executive order to be issued by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"The EO we are asking the President to sign is really something bold in terms of ensuring that no drugs will be available in the private sector. Only the DOH ( Department of Health) will have the drugs for tuberculosis for free," said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial Thursday.

"We will eliminate commercial sources of anti-TB drugs. Therefore, business unusual," added Ubial.

Ubial this means all TB cases are monitored and treated thoroughly

"We can really capture the population and ensure that they get full treatment. Because as we have seen in the past, making them available in the commercial sector, where it's very expensive, people buy it. But as soon as finances are low and they feel better, they stop taking the drugs," she noted.

Ubial said a six to nine -month treatment of TB would cost the government some $30 ( P1,53o) per patient; while those done in private facilities would usually cost each patient about P100 ( P51,300).

She said incomplete treatment is one of the main causes of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB.

"The reason why we have MDR is the compliance is very poor. Many of our patients get drugs from private sector. And when they stop taking the drugs, that’s when the resistance happen," explained Ubial.

In the 2016 National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey (NTPS) results, wherein the number of new TB cases was reported at 554 per 100,000 populations.

"This is way above the WHO (World Health Organization) estimate of 322 per 100,000 populations in 2015," said Ubial.

This, she added, means  around one million Filipinos are infected with TB and "many of them are unaware of their health condition." .

Ubial said 41 percent of those interviewed with symptoms suggesting TB did not take action.

The 2016 survey involved a total of 46,689 individuals from 106 cluster barangays across the country surveyed from March to December 2016.

"The results of the TB survey are sobering - putting the Philippines among the most affected countries globally," said Ubial. DMS