Tuberculosis, they say, is a disease of the poor and truly it is a disease that puts us high above other nations in the world. We are currently among the 22nd high TB burdened countries and are under the WHO TB watch list. Tuberculosis is such a problem for us. Imagine, 75 of our fellowmen die each day because of TB. Tuberculosis, however, is not a terminal disease. Before, people thought once you have TB you’ll just die not cured with the disease. But now, it is actually very curable. Our government, in addressing to this dreaded disease, formulated the National Tuberculosis Program or NTP. This program envisions our nation as a country where TB is no longer a public health problem. The goal therefore is to reduce the prevalence and mortality from TB by half by the year 2015. Now, this is where DOTS comes in.
At first, I thought DOTS is just about making sure that the patient is really taking in his TB regimens – like literally swallowing the medicines on schedule. It, however, is not just as simple as that. DOTS or Direct Observed Treatment, Short-Course is the WHO-recommended strategy for diagnosis, treatment and management of TB. Since TB is curable, the WHO believes that the best way to cure TB is through DOTS. It is a health strategy made up of five important components: Political Commitment for TB Control; Facilities for Microscopic Diagnosis of Sputum Positive Smear Patient; Unlimited Supply of Good Quality Anti-TB Drugs; Direct Observation of Therapy; and, Good Record Keeping. Through these components, it is made sure that the program is managed properly and that the sputum microscopy is of good quality. The program is embraced by the government and made sure it is implemented. Health professionals are taught and trained well on the importance of the program, precautionary measures, how to deal with the TB patient, and, most importantly, on the proper identification and reporting of sputum microscopy