Sunday, June 16, 2024 | 05:06 WIB

Indonesia’s campaign against TB in the workplace

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Jakarta, IO – WHO data reports that cases of tuberculosis (TBC or TB) in Indonesia are the second highest globally. According to the Ministry of Health’s Center for Data and Information Technology (Pusdatin), TB is one of the top 10 causes of death in Indonesia and the prime cause of death from infectious diseases. Those at risk of TB infection include patients with HIV or other immunocompromising diseases; smokers; heavy drinkers; children aged less than 5 years and the elderly; those with unavoidably close contact with active TB patients; or those living in a place with a high risk of exposure to the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB. 

Why is there a need for a TB control program in the workplace? 

We know that workers are a risk population for TB, since they work 8 hours per day, or 2/3 of their adult lives, for years. And ironically, only a few companies can implement an effective Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program, following standards and requirements, among other things, a TB control program in the workplace. 

Dr. dr. Astrid Sulistomo, Sp.Ok, Subsp.BioKO(K), MPH, Chairman of the Indonesian Occupational Medicine Association (IOMA), in the “Indonesian Movement Against TB in the Workplace” webinar held Monday (13/5/2024), revealed that only 30-40% of workers are in the formal sector. BP Jamsostek 2021 reported more than 137,000 work accidents, with 9 workers dying and 25 workers becoming disabled, every day. 

“The highest burden of disease is in the productive age group of 25-34 years. Workers at high risk of contracting TB due to work include health workers, workers in construction companies due to exposure to silica, labor-intensive businesses, or those who have to work in rooms with minimal ventilation,” she explained. 

Dr. dr. Astrid Sulistomo, Sp.Ok, Subsp.BioKO(K), MPH
Dr. dr. Astrid Sulistomo, Sp.Ok, Subsp.BioKO(K), MPH (Source: Private Doc.)

Periodic Health Checks 

It was explained that companies or workplaces definitely want their workers to be productive or perform well. A healthy condition is associated with productive workers. Workers who are often sick are considered to be detrimental to the company, since that impairs their productivity and increases presenteeism, with higher medical costs. 

“Presenteeism is absent, but not productive because they cannot work. Therefore, apart from having to adhere to regulations, many companies are willing to spend money to prevent or control disease through periodic health checks,” said the lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia. 

TB detection can also be carried out outside of regular health checks, if workers are found to be symptomatic. If they test positive for TB, workers receive treatment and follow-ups, the same as TB patients in general. 

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“However, the definition of ‘recovery’ does not always mean that your health has returned to its original state. In some cases, especially severe pulmonary TB – there may be defects in the lungs. These conditions cause job demands to be unequal: from high physical activity to sedentary, long working hours to shift models, or considering working from home. During treatment, workers can get a sick leave letter until they are declared fit for work,” she stated. 

To prevent TB transmission in the workplace, adopt clean and healthy living behavior, apply etiquette when coughing or expelling phlegm, and use a mask and keep your distance when you feel sick. (est)

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