What’s in Taiwan?

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A “mystery disease” broke out among Filipino workers in two Philips plants in Taiwan. Reports reaching the country revealed that Filipina workers were confined at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, showing symptoms of that has been identified as the Steven-Johnson Syndrome. The number of those affected reached 59.

The illness is believed to be a severe form of hypersensitivity reaction and may be caused by adverse drug reaction, chemical exposure, and radiation infection.

A multi-sectoral Philippine team was sent to Taiwan to confer with their Taiwanese counterparts, visit factories and dormitories, and conduct interviews with the Filipino workers.

The team reported that over-use of anti-parasitic drugs could have predisposed some of the workers to hypersensitivity. The anti-parasitic drugs were administered to these workers when they come in contact with minute traces of certain chemicals while working at the factory. This reaction might have lowered their immunity and made them vulnerable to opportunistic infections like Mycoplasma pneumonia. A significant observation was that not all Filipina workers in the same factory got sick but mostly those who took several doses of the anti-parasitic drug.

The team has strongly discouraged the indiscriminate use of anti-parasitic drugs especially against medical advice. Local clinics screening workers abroad for deployment abroad have been advised accordingly. Furthermore, a ban has been recommended, and is still maintained, in the deployment of workers to the Philips factories in Taiwan.

Surveillance of those cases is on-going as of September of this year.

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