Take TB fight to communities, urges minister

2011-03-23 14:19

The fight against TB should be taken to people’s homes, Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramokgopa said in Durban today.

“The fight against TB should be taken away from hospitals and clinics to our homes and communities,” Ramokgopa said during pre-celebrations for World TB Day (March 24) at King George V Hospital.

“If you are coughing for two weeks non-stop and sweating at night, go and get tested for TB, it is curable.”

King George V is in Overport, where patients with multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extreme-drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) are treated.

Buyani Magagula (41) is being treated in the hospital after he was diagnosed with XDR-TB in December last year.

Magagula had been on MDR-TB treatment since 2006, but his immune system failed to respond to the medication.

The father of six was hoping to be cured soon and return to work so he could support his children again.

He first contracted TB in 1984.

Another MDR-TB patient, Mzwandile Mnyaka, told Sapa he was responding well to treatment.

“I am not feeling any pain, I just feel normal. Well, I have to stay in hospital because I have MDR.”

He was diagnosed with TB in June last year. After he completed his TB treatment MDR was detected when he was tested last month.

The health department’s national MDR unit head Norbert Ndjeka said TB was a serious problem in South Africa.

The country had the third highest number of TB infections worldwide.

There were about 9 000 people diagnosed with MDR-TB in the country, 4 000 receiving treatment and 2 000 of those in hospitals.

Ndjeka said 42% of MDR-TB patients in the country were successfully treated in 2009. About 20% of MDR patients died during treatment.

He said problems in dealing with MDR were poor treatment success rate, fewer hospital beds and a shortage of nurses and doctors.

Ndjeka criticised the private sector for not helping, as patients often lost their jobs once diagnosed with MDR.
It takes to two years or more to cure MDR and XDR TB.

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