Hope for TB suffers

2017-03-30 06:02

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After being diagnosed with Drug Resistant Turberculosis (TB), life may have lost all meaning to Sinethemba Kuse, but thanks to the counselling sessions she undertook, she is now living proof that, indeed, there is light at the end of a darky tunnel.

The teenager from Khayelitsha said she has now overcome her initial fears after she was introduced to Delamaid, a trial drug, which is currently only available to about one percent of those in need for it.

Kuse,17, a Grade 10 learner at Joe Slovo Engineering High School, had a rather terrible Christmas holiday after she was diagnosed with the Drug-Resistant Turberculosis (DR-TB) on the eve of the great day.

“I thought I was going to die after I was diagnosed...I started losing appetite. I then went to the clinic where I was diagnosed on 24 December. When I went back to the clinic again later, I was told that my TB had deteriorated to being DR-TB.

I thought it was over for me, until the doctors encouraged me to take my medication and for their counselling. I am now felling better though I am still on treatment. I did not know about TB before my diagnosis.

A two metre tall print artwork with her face on was unveiled during the commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day at Thusong Centre, on Friday.

The artwork, which was done by Claude Chandler, an artist, using word stamps made by Kuse and other adolescent DR-TB patients, will be presented to clinics and schools in the area along with her story.

The commemoration of the day was done in partnership with Medicins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), City Health and City of Cape Town.

Dr. Jenny Hughes, MSF’s TB doctor in Khayelitsha is concerned about children who do not get much help to cure the disease.

“An estimated 10 percent (of approximately 650’000 cases of DR-TB worldwide) occur among children and adolescents, and although young people respond well to treatment, thousands die from this disease each year, largely due to lack of access to improved diagnostic techniques and more tolerable treatment for young people.

South Africa is no exception,” the statement said.

The country’s new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (2017-2022) recommends providing health services such as TB screening in schools, although this much-needed activity is likely to stall until the Department of Basic Education finalizes and implements its 2015 Draft Policy on HIV, STIs and TB. MSF calls on the DBE to have this strategy approved without further delay.

MSF Khayelitsha is currently conducting a pilot project aimed at strengthening the decentralisation of DR-TB services for children and adolescents, through enhancing existing contact tracing services, strengthening referral processes and improving education. MSF offered TB screens at certain schools in Khayelitsha in 2016, and detected 8 cases of DR-TB.

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