TB detection machine now operational at Benguet IPHO

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Jan. 8(PIA) – – The province is a recipient of the Gene Xpert machine for the rapid detection and identification of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB).

Lodged at the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) here, the equipment is part of the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) which aims to eliminate TB cases in the Philippines by 2020.

“We have low cases of TB in our province compared to other provinces in the Cordillera region but it doesn’t assure us that there are only few people suffering from the disease,” said Governor Nestor B. Fongwan during the launching and turn –over of the Benguet NTP Laboratory at the Provincial Health Office last month.

‘Through the Gene Xpert machine donated by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) through the Department of Health –CAR, we can now give quality test to people suspected of the disease’, said Fongwan. Case detection with the use of the Xpert machine can be availed free of charge.

According to the World Health Organization, TB is still one of the world’s top health challenges with new TB cases and deaths of nearly 1.5M people each year. In the Philippines, TB is still one of the most fatal treatable diseases.

The recent Philippine Institute for Development Studies shows that 712 Filipinos acquire TB every day but only 632 get their treatments.

In Benguet, there was low detection rate of the disease from 2009 to 2014 but with high success rate or those cured and have completed treatment, according to Provincial TB Nurse Coordinator Purita Maguen.

There were 86 cases diagnosed in 2009, 67 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 66 in 2012, and 42 in 2014. Treatment of cases for the period ranged from a low of 81 percent in 2014 to a high of 96.7 percent in 2012.

“TB is not included in the Top 10 causes of death and morbidity in the province but it doesn’t mean that Benguet is free of such disease. This can be attributed to the fact that most people don’t have their check-ups if they have cough and also for the reason that TB is difficult to detect,” Dr. Nora Ruiz, Provincial Health Officer, explained.

But with the Gene Xpert Machine, TB can be easily diagnosed. According to Dr. Allan Fabella, PBSP Medical Specialist, the machine can detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and resistant to Rifampicin in less than two hours in comparison to the standard culture which can take two to six weeks for the result.

The information generated using the equipment also aids in selecting suitable treatment especially those that are resistant to antibiotics. The machine also requires minimal technical training in running the test.

Six patients positive with TB were already detected utilizing the machine, according to reports of the IPHO./JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet with reports from Sandy Calado, Benguet Provincial Government


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