That is what tubercolosis is popularly known.
We were having dinner last night with aunts and uncles.
My conversation last night wth my Tital Mamel veered to her work.
She is a physician on infectious diseases, working with D.O.T.S.
I forgot what it means but her work is now focused on a world project aimed at stopping the spread of what is called Multi-Drug Resistant TB or MDR-TB.
I only knew last night that this is such a dreaded and deadly disease, more dangerous than ordinary TB.
Multi Drug Resistant TB speaks for what it is.
It is that kind of TB that resists many a drug treatment.
MDR-TB, she said affects around 30,000 Filipinos, living in urban poor areas.
She laments that their treatment rate is so low in numbers, only about 800 patients.
The reason is that treating MDR-TB is very expensive. It costs, she said US$3,500 to treat an MDR-TB patient.
Where do they get the money to treat these patients here?
She said there is a global fund, mostly coming from industrialized, developed countries that provides these funding to control the spread of MDR-TB worldwide.
Other industrial nations provide funds because they fear that with increasing migration, the threat of MDR-TB penetrating their countries, also increases.
Tita Mamel, Dr. Ma. Imelda D. Quelapio, said that is why a global fund is made available for developing countries like the Philippines.
Here is a fact that Tita Mamel told me last night.
She said the Philippines is the 2nd largest contributor of tubercolosis (not the MDR-TB, but ordinary TB) in the United States, next only to Mexico.
She said that is why visa requirements become all the more stringent due to strict medical checks to ensure that no person with TB enters the U.S.
There is a program in Saint Lukes Hospital for these medical checks for U.S. visa applicants.
Let's go back to MDR-TB.
There are two types of MDR-TB. It is either primary or secondary.
It is primary if MDR-TB is pread from one carrier to another.
It is secondary if TB patient does not follow strictly the six-month treatment.
As a consequence of not completing the six months treatement period, a patient develops secondary MDR-TB.
Ordinary TB then becomes the deadly MDR-TB because a patient will then become drug resistant, and thus could no longer be easily treated with ordinary drugs.
She said the Philippines is already advanced in terms of treating MDR-TB, sans the needed funding, as they began the treatment project in 1999.
That is why she is invited to many countries to help start off similar treatment programs for MDR-TB.
While in terms of the rate of patients treated is so low due to accutely deficient funding in the Philippines, the impact of the program is very effective.
That is why other countries look to the Philippine program as sort of a model for starting MDR-TB treatement prjects.
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