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Intensified Efforts To Diagnose, Treat TB Needed In Philippines

Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, “[l]ack of shelter and continued bad weather are leading to widespread acute respiratory infections, which the Philippines Department of Health officials say are becoming the biggest public health threat since the typhoon,” Kari Stoever, vice president of external affairs at Aeras, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “Medical authorities also worry about leptospirosis, a water-borne parasitic disease endemic to the Philippines, diseases that thrive in tropical, unsanitary environments like cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, other infections spread through crowded evacuation centers and shelters,” she adds.

“While the Philippines work to save lives and rebuild communities, diseases like tuberculosis (TB) often become ‘opportunistic’ in these situations — taking advantage of interruptions in treatment, malnutrition, stress and weakened immune systems,” Stoever continues. “In the Philippines, several TB control projects and treatment centers were located in Tacloban, the hardest-hit city in the Philippines, and while it’s too soon for reports on the full extent of any damages, the destruction was so vast that the treatment regimens of most TB patients in the area were surely interrupted,” she notes, adding, “Intensified efforts to diagnosis new cases of TB and ensure access to treatment is imperative to halt the immediate spread of TB” (11/25).