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Private practitioners and tuberculosis control in the Philippines: strangers when they meet?

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Summary objective

To investigate the knowledge, attitudes and perspectives of the Filipino private physicians (PPs) on tuberculosis (TB) control issues in the Philippines and their implications for future governmental public health policies. design

Cross-sectional telephone survey from June to October 2001. participants

In each of the 78 provinces of the Philippines we randomly selected 10 PPs from the provincial capital city, five PPs from an urban centre with more than 50 000 population, and one PP from 15 rural villages with <50 000 population, making a total of 30 PPs per province. These data were complemented with information from focus group discussions with health workers and policy makers working in TB control, and through personal interviews with PPs. results

We interviewed 1355 (57.9%) of 2340 PPs identified. TB was diagnosed mainly through X-ray (87.9%) and usually treated with inappropriate regimens of anti-TB drugs (89.3%). The PPs did not follow-up their TB patients, did not trace the defaulters (97.9%) and did not identify contacts (91.4%). Only 24.2% knew the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) policies in depth. They defined the NTP's weakest points as diagnosis through sputum microscopy (59.2%) and the management of smear negative patients (29.7%). Most PPs were willing to collaborate with the NTP (83.3%) provided they were paid (38.4%). More than a half (51.5%) objected to obligatory reporting of new TB cases. The PPs based their success in attracting TB patients to their offices on confidentiality (46.1%) and on the kind treatment and flexibility given (43.7%). conclusions

Diagnosis and treatment of TB patients is a daily issue for the PPs in the Philippines, although they did not follow usually the NTP guidelines. The majority of the PPs wished to collaborate with the NTP provided they were paid.
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Keywords: Philippines; TB control; compliance; private practitioners

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tuberculosis Research and Training Center, Epidemiological Unit, Central Chest Clinic, Metro Manila, Philippines

Publication date: 01 April 2003

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