TB infections highest in KZN

2008-03-24 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal has the highest number of TB infections and the worst treatment outcome in the country, due to the fact that the province has the highest number of people living with HIV worldwide.

This is according to the provincial Health Department.

KwaZulu-Natal Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa said that the province has been identified as one of the worst afflicted provinces in the country.

"It has the highest TB caseload among the worst afflicted provinces, and poorest treatment outcomes.

"The number of TB cases registered in the province has increased by 80% in the period 2001 to 2004 — 39 000 cases in 2001 to 70 000 in 2004, and is the highest caseload of any province."

He said the province has the highest number of treatment defaulters in the country.

"The treatment outcomes in the province are notably worse than in other provinces, with a successful completion rate of 50% in 2003, a cure rate of 36% in 2003 and a defaulter rate of 14%.

Within KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini Municipality has been identified as one of the districts most afflicted by TB in South Africa."

According to Mbangwa, the rapid increase in TB in KwaZulu-Natal is directly related to the increase in HIV in the province.

He said KwaZulu-Natal has the highest HIV prevalence in the world.

"Over one and a half million people in KZN (total population 9 651 000 persons in mid 2005) are living with HIV. This is 16% and the highest prevalence in the world. HIV has a direct impact on TB as people with HIV are far more susceptible to TB infection, and less able to fight it off.

"The increase in case load is also being driven by poverty and [the fact that] KZN comprises large and fragmented rural and peri-urban communities with very poor socio-economic conditions."

He said failure to adhere to treatment due to these circumstances is compounding the epidemic, leading to multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB.

In light of these shocking revelations, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni will engage individuals to make a commitment to stopping TB.

This will be done as part of the World TB Day 2008, which fell yesterday, and is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of thousands of people each year.

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