SA to spend millions on TB centres

2011-03-24 12:58

The heath department is spending R100 million to build multidrug-resistant tuberculosis centres across the country, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced in Durban today.

“We are building state-of-the-art centres, which are more like five-star hotels where MDR patients will be treated,” Motsoaledi said during the World TB Day commemoration at Prince Mshayeni Hospital in Umlazi township.

“Unfortunately, that’s where MDR patients would have to stay for 18 months for treatment.”

Nine MDR centres are being built throughout the country, including one at Catherine Booth hospital at Uthungulu municipality, which will be officially opened on April 9.

The Catherine Booth Hospital centre would be able to accommodate 40 patients at a time, 20 males and 20 females.

It took about 10 months to build the specially designed centre, said hospital acting chief executive Zama Bomnambi.

“This centre will be of great help to the community of Uthungulu, as we would now be able to accommodate more patients, not the 13 beds we had before,” Bonambi said.

Most of the KwaZulu-Natal MDR and extreme drug resistant TB (XDR) patients are currently being treated at the King George V hospital in Overport, Durban.

This means most patients from different parts of the province have to travel longer distances to be treated for MDR and XDR .

The structure that is currently under construction at Catherine Booth Hospital is built in a special way that allows more air ventilation than in normal hospital wards, to avoid patient cross-infection said the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Geoff Abbott.

He said the structure was built in a way which allows 16 air changes per hour in the room which will reduce the number of infectious particles in the air.

There would be single and double rooms in the centre, a recreation centre with a TV, and a visiting centre for family.

As part of strengthening the fight against TB, Motsoaledi also announced new technology advances to fight the disease.

Those included the unveiling of a new diagnostic machine which would be able to diagnose a patient within two hours as opposed to the three to five weeks patiends used to wait.

“This is an absolute revolution in the fight against TB,” he said.

“We are going to do home visits now where nurses will go to communities and test people for TB.”

Motsoaledi said they would visit 200 000 families in the next month in the province.

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