JAKARTA – Tuberculosis (TB) or commonly known as TB is a lung disease caused by germs mycobacterius tuberculosis. TB became very well known in Indonesia with very high cases of spread. Director of Prevention and Control of Direct Transmitted Diseases, Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) of the Republic of Indonesia, dr. Wiendra Waworuntu, M. Kes revealed that Indonesia became the third largest country with TB cases in the world after India and China.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, the estimated TB cases in Indonesia reached 845,000 people and those found were around 69 percent or around 540,000. The TB mortality rate is also quite high, with 13 people per hour dying from TB. An undiscovered case also has a very high transmission potential, just like COVID-19. Although equally dangerous and contagious through droplets and respiratory tracts, Wiendra explained that there are several differences between TBC and COVID-19, ranging from symptoms to how they are treated.
“The transmission (TB and COVID-19) are both droplets. But the difference is in the diagnosis. While COVID-19 is from a virus, while TB is from germs or bacteria, “he said.
Next to the symptoms, Wiendra explained the symptoms of tuberculosis include onset or chronic attacks for more than 14 days with symptoms of fever of less than 38 degrees Celsius accompanied by coughing up phlegm, blood spots, shortness of breath gradually weighing, weight loss and night sweats. While the symptoms of COVID-19, among others, with symptoms of acute onset of less than 14 days accompanied by fever of more than 38 degrees Celsius with a dry cough, shortness of breath appear immediately after onset, joint pain, colds, headaches, olfactory disorders or taste.
The diagnosis process of TB and COVID-19 also has similarities using the Molecular Rapid Test (TCM) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) methods, but the difference is in the sampling. For the diagnosis of COVID-19 must go through a swab, while tuberculosis is sufficient with phlegm only.
In addition, the big difference between COVID-19 and TB is that COVID-19 has no cure, whereas TB has found a cure and can be accessed free of charge.
“COVID-19 does not have a cure, while tuberculosis has a cure, with a note that it must be consumed properly and obediently,” he concluded.
Even though they have medicine to help cure, there are still many people who underestimate TB disease because it is considered an old disease so that they do not pay attention to the discipline in the healing process through the consumption of available drugs, so that TB sufferers become resistant or the medicine does not work anymore with the TB disease.
“When you have consumed, then stop, then drink again later. So the cure is not really healed perfectly. Though TB drugs must be consumed in a long time that is six months. But in the first and second month they felt healed, even though they were not yet healed. This has become resistant and the problem is still our challenge, “he explained.
Wiendra also added that people who suffer from tuberculosis are not a congenital disease that is easily infected with COVID-19.
“According to the data, only 19 people with TB were affected by COVID-19. In the available data, non-communicable diseases or PTM become congenital diseases that are easily infected by COVID-19. Although TB is in the top 10 congenital diseases prone to COVID-19, TB is not number one, “he added.
TB control during the COVID-19 pandemic also experienced several obstacles, especially because of the concern of TB patients and the hospital in conducting the examination.
“The patient (TB patient) cannot go to health services for fear, then the health facility is also now afraid to check the TB patient, especially on COVID-19. But with most COVID-19 referral hospitals that have laboratory examinations with TCM, it is quite helpful for TB patient care, “explained Wiendra.
Furthermore, Wiendra appealed to people who suffer from TB to continue to always seek treatment to existing health services and consume drugs until they are fully recovered so that transmission is not increasing.
“TB services cannot stop, if you need to go to health protocol services, they will still be served. Don’t give up the medicine and make sure that the drug is obtained by the patient, “Wiendra stressed.
COVID-19 prevention measures by implementing health protocols increase the awareness of the Indonesian people that health and hygiene are important. This also provides an opportunity to prevent TB transmission by doing the same thing, such as washing hands, wearing masks and keeping a distance.
“Changing habits is definitely difficult, it’s not as easy as turning the palm of our hand, but with COVID-19, we have the opportunity to develop habits with discipline and obedience to implementing health protocols such as hand washing, wearing masks and keeping a distance, so it’s not only useful to prevent COVID- 19, but it is also useful to prevent TB transmission, “he explained.
Services for TB Patients May Not Stop Amid Pandemic
On the same occasion, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Stop TB Partnership Indonesia Ir. Arifin Panigoro explained that the challenges of tuberculosis that had been found by Indonesia for a long time and now coupled with the existence of a COVID-19 pandemic, made all parties have to work hard together to overcome the potential for transmission. Moreover, tuberculosis should not be simplified because the number of sufferers is not small.
“Before there was COVID-19, TB was already serious in Indonesia. The TB problem is big but the attention from anyone, from the government and the community is considered to be an old disease that has been completed, “Arifin said through a digital space dialogue (7/7).
According to Arifin, the main problem after the COVID-19 was that the government was now focused on controlling COVID-19. In fact, in the absence of COVID-19, TB case findings have been limited. Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, TB control was neglected at all stages.
“Logical, because we all focus our attention is taken by COVID-19, although everyone feels that TB is serious, but the priority right now is COVID-19,” Arifin added.
Arifin also emphasized that community participation is needed in suppressing the potential transmission of COVID-19 and TB itself and all parties must work harder in handling COVID-19 which is still ongoing at this time but there is unfinished work related to handling TB.
“For diseases that are as broad as it is today, community participation is needed. We must be together. Participation of all parties is very important. We must be prepared to work extra hard to deal with the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic without forgetting the potential danger of tuberculosis which also still occurs in Indonesia, “said Arifin.
In line with Arifin, Wiendra also reiterated that TB services cannot stop and health protocols must be obeyed, so that TB services continue to run well while COVID-19 prevention can also be carried out. Services for TB patients can also be done online through the Go-Drug system so there is no need to leave the house to get TB drugs.
“All services for tuberculosis patients cannot stop, even if they have to go to health services, the health protocol will continue to be followed and obeyed. For tuberculosis patients also do not drop out of the drug. TB patients can access the drug through Go-Drug or other partners that provide TB medicine, “he concluded.
Editor : Ari Kristyono