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August 29, 2009

Fighting Against T.B.: Pirma Kontra TB

The third week of August was spent visiting barangays conducting TB awareness among the community. One of the things I have been struggling together with our RHU staff is the Waterloo of a low TB Case detection rate. While we don't have a death caused by TB (yet), we cannot help but think of the undetected walking TB cases who might continue to spread the disease. We decided to conduct a week-long Barangay TB Forum instead of a one-day TB caravan so that we can spread the word about TB even beyond the limits of the Poblacion area.

We conducted the TB Forum in Barangays Cabia-an, Haba and West. These are the top 3 barangays when it comes to cases of TB (with Barangay Haba leading the three). But that does not mean that the other barangays don't have cases of TB. Like I said, the case detection rate is generally low. Now that our TB DOTS center is Philhealth accredited, we are more motivated to seek out symptomatic cases and enroll them in our TB DOTS center.

The TB Forum would start with a short program, usually prepared by the host barangay. I was thankful that all of the barangay officials of each barangay were present to support and even spearhead the conduct of the TB Forum.

Before the lecture proper, I would usually take over to do a "Willie Revillame" stunt by conducting a game called TB or not TB (TB ukon Indi TB). The people would enjoy the simple game especially the winners.

The forum would continue with the lecture proper conducted by our Public Health nurse and TB Microscopist. The participants are taught how to identify the symptoms of TB and what to do in case they feel they have the symptoms.

Before the Forum would end, testimonials from previous TB patients who were treated in our TB DOTS center would be given and shared to the community. The objective is to erase the stigma that TB patients would usually feel.

The Forum is concluded with a ceremonial signing of the PIRMA kontra TB, where the participants would pledge to combat the disease through early consultation in our TB DOTS center, and take the oath of commitment to be our partners in the detection of TB in their respective communities.

This is just an attempt to increase the level of awareness of the community against the disease and to somehow eliminate the stigma of people with TB. TB patients are usually afraid to "come out" in fear of being isolated by the community. We hope that many TB suspects will go to our TB DOTS center and seek early consultation and treatment.

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