Many Filipinos Have Misconceptions About Tuberculosis and Leprosy

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Thursday, February 11, 1999

There is a high overall awareness in the Philippines regarding health issues. The results of the 1998 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) show that most household respondents say that they watch their nutritional diet, exercise regularly, are aware of the cancer-causing effects of smoking and are familiar with dengue fever and steps effective in its prevention. However, misconceptions about leprosy and tuberculosis abound, with only 21 percent of respondents knowing that leprosy is transmitted by skin and 11 percent by airborne droplets, and only one in six respondents knowing that tuberculosis is caused by a germ or bacteria.

The Department of Health has endorsed 10 herbal medicines as being scientifically proven effective for treatment of specific illnesses and conditions. NDHS data show that although awareness of some of these herbs is widespread, knowledge about the specific uses of the herbs is quite limited. The medicinal use of bayabas to clean wounds is identified by 81 percent, while that for ampalaya to treat diabetes, by only 5 percent.

Testing of salt used by households was done during the survey to determine the extent of households using iodized salts. The result reveals that only 11 percent of households used iodized salt.

With regard to household members' affiliation with any health care insurance plan, around 40 percent of households have at least one member with a health care financing scheme. Among those with a health insurance plan, around nine in 10 were members of medicare.

More details on these and other NDHS findings will be presented in the 1998 NDHS data dissemination seminar to be held on February 10-11, 1999 at Manila Midtown Hotel.