The Philippine Department of Education and the Department of Health recently signed an agreement to provide teachers in the country with access to no-cost tuberculosis treatment, the Inquirer reports. The agreement was announced ahead of a recent report from the education department's Health and Nutrition Center that found almost 2,000 public school teachers in the Philippines were diagnosed with TB during the first half of the year.
More than 150,000 education department staff had chest X-rays during the first six months of the year, and 1,821 X-rays showed TB-associated lesions, according to the report, which also found that 642 teachers underwent treatment for TB.
The report did not explain the discrepancy between the number of people with TB-like lesions and the number of people who underwent treatment. It also found that no TB-related deaths among teachers were reported during the first half of the year. There are a total of about 460,000 teachers registered with education department in the Philippines, the Inquirer reports.
According to HNC Director Thelma Santos, the TB situation among teachers in the country has improved in recent years. Compared with previous years, the center's TB monitoring efforts now are "more extensive," Santos said, adding that HNC's TB advocacy program also has improved. The education department also is "closely monitoring" teachers with TB, Santos said.
In addition to the health and education departments' efforts to expand access to no-cost treatment, a 20-bed teacher's clinic is being renovated in coordination with the Philippine Tuberculosis Society and the Philippine Public School Teachers Association.
The clinic receives an annual donation of one million Philippine pesos -- or about $23,000 -- from the education department. Santos said that teachers with TB are required to take leave for a long period of time and do not receive a salary during their absences. She added that Teodosio Sangil, the education department's undersecretary, is working to create a "leave with pay" program, in which teachers who have TB would be paid while they are on leave and substitute teachers would take their places.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation