Stop TB in PMB

2015-07-08 06:00
PHOTO: Sourced

TB is the single biggest killer in South Africa and has been for the past 18 years with no improvement of figures.

PHOTO: Sourced TB is the single biggest killer in South Africa and has been for the past 18 years with no improvement of figures.

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ONE person dies every 11 minutes from tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa with the majority of people unaware that they have the preventable disease.

The Pietermaritzburg and District Community Chest and the South African Red Cross Society signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to inform the public about the dangers, cures and symptoms of TB, and help them identify it at the early stages.

Project funding of R1.4 million was approved and payable quarterly­ for a programme to run in 4 015 households including Ezinketheni­ 995, Swapo A 670, Swapo B 550, Copesville 1 000 and Haniville 800.

Chest director Michael Deegan, said that TB is the single biggest killer in South Africa and has been for the past 18 years with no improvement of figures.

“This is an absolute disgrace considering the disease is completely preventable with the correct medical treatment that is available. The biggest problem is in our province with a 13.3% infection rate.”

Deegan said about 30% of people­ do not know they have TB, which results in their death.

“Fifty percent of autopsies conducted in Edendale Hospital are TB related. There people did not know they were infected.”

A pledge was made at the Chest’s annual general meeting last year to continue the work on TB in the city and greater parts of the province.

“An action group was formed with four leading organisations in order to fight against the disease. No one can solve the problem alone - we need to work together,” said Deegan.

The Stop TB action group has since submitted a proposal to Discovery Health to begin programmes in primary schools where pupils will pick up information and take it home to the elders in the family in turn making them aware of the effects of TB.

Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu, son of King Goodwill Zwelithini, is a TB survivor and is the ambassador for the Department of Health and will be the speaker at the Chest’s 2015 AGM on 23 July at the Maritzburg Golf Club.

“Work still needs to be done in taxis and public places to make people understand how easy it is to contract TB. Sitting in queues and hospitals with people coughing without knowing they have TB can be detrimental to others. People also need to know there are free TB testing facilities at clinics and hospitals­ around the city,” said Deegan.

Once people are taught about TB, a lot of lives can be saved.

“Educating people to understand and recognise the symptoms is the first step and we are not doing enough of that at the moment,” he said.

Seventy organisations have committed to the Stop TB campaign as a way of them giving back. With the upcoming AGM, Deegan expects this number to increase

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