Every day, 38 Filipinos die from tuberculosis (TB), a highly contagious but preventable disease. According to the 2016 Global Tuberculosis Report, the Philippines ranked eighth among the 30 countries with the largest number of TB cases in the world.
Overcrowding in places of detention facilitates the spread of TB even faster. The risk of TB disease in detention facilities can reach 23 times higher than in the general population, based on the recent World Health Organization's STOP TB Partnership Brief Report.
Stakeholders have been working together to eliminate TB in detention facilities by improving early-detection processes and access to TB care for inmates. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been supporting the national authorities to improve TB-control strategies through the evidence-based best practices from two pilot sites--the New Bilibid Prison and the Quezon City Jail.
In NBP for example, a TB mass screening for inmates will kick off today, World TB Day. Nearly 6,500 inmates in the medium-security compound will be screened for TB from March until June.
One missed inmate with TB can infect around 10 to 20 inmates, their visiting families or prison guards in a given year. To effectively control TB, every inmate counts. No one should be left behind.