Learners learn more about TB

2020-03-19 06:04
Sr Phathiswa Tukwayo talks to the learners during a TB campaign held at Eyethu hall, while Goodman Makanda (pink t-shirt) from MSF also known as Doctors Without Borders, and Ziyanda Damse (right) from the City look on. PHOTO: unathi obose

Sr Phathiswa Tukwayo talks to the learners during a TB campaign held at Eyethu hall, while Goodman Makanda (pink t-shirt) from MSF also known as Doctors Without Borders, and Ziyanda Damse (right) from the City look on. PHOTO: unathi obose

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Learners from Bulumko High School in Khayelitsha gathered at Eyethu community hall to learn about tuberculosis (TB) and how to prevent it. The event was organised by the City of Cape Town’s health department together with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – Doctors Without Borders. MSF is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that provides healthcare to countries in crisis.

The City’s health promotion officer Eleanor Sopili said this was part of a campaign to fight the stigma of having TB. She says March is TB Month where people are encouraged to get tested for TB. “Every year on 24 March we celebrate TB Day where we educate people about the symptoms and dangers of the disease. TB is curable if a patient is taking treatment,” she said.

Sopili said TB has three stages, all of which are curable. “There is a Multiple-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB, Extreme Drug Resistant (EDR) TB which both take nine months and more to be treated. And there is normal TB which takes only six months of treatment if a patient doesn’t default on the treatment,” said Sopili. She said there are growing numbers of learners who have TB. “We want the teachers to know the signs and symptoms of TB so that they are able to assist the learners quickly,” she said, adding that most of the learners drop out of school when they are diagnosed.

MSF manager Boniwe Memani said people resist treatment because of stigma associated with the disease. “TB is not spreading like HIV/Aids. It is a contagious disease and people do not want to accept it when they are affected. People must stay alert all the time. If they are in a taxi they must open the windows for air to come in,” said Memani. She cited fever, sweating at night, loss of appetite and shortness of breath, persistent cough, coughing up blood and constant fatigue as some of the symptoms of TB.

Teacher Thozama Tomose described the event as very educational. She said it is important for learners to be informed because some of them are heading households. “I believe some of the learners will be able to assist when they see some of their family members affected, to encourage him or her to take treatment,” said Tomose.

Grade 8 learner Siphokuhle Matrose (14) said they learnt that TB is not dangerous, particularly when taking the treatment. “We were taught that if someone is sick he or she must take the full treatment. And we must stop discriminating against people with TB,” she said.

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