Prisoners in a fight against TB

2015-05-05 06:00
Delekile Klaas, regional commissioner of the department of correctional services, talks about the results of a TB drive at Pollsmoor Prison. 

Delekile Klaas, regional commissioner of the department of correctional services, talks about the results of a TB drive at Pollsmoor Prison. PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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Inmates at Pollsmoor Prison are making strides in the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

With an increase in the number of ­inmates the infamous prison is currently 199% overcrowded, creating the perfect ­opportunity for TB to spread.

During a briefing held at the prison last week Ntobeko Mketsane, area commissioner for the department of correctional services, revealed shocking statistics.

In his presentation he explained there were 8642 offenders. In the admission ­centre, which is built to house 1619 inmates, there are currently 4254 inmates. He said the spread of TB was threatening the health of inmates but also their families and communities. For this reason, the prison has partnered with the TB/HIV Care Association, the health department and the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) to ensure that all inmates entering the prison are screened, diagnosed and treated quickly.

“Through this partnership we now have six counsellors, two nurses, two enrolled nurses, data capturers and a radiologist to assist us”.

TB/HIV Care Association chief executive Harry Hausler explains patients are diagnosed in two hours and can then be treated sooner, hindering the spread of the disease.

For the period between March 2013 and February this year, 68 152 inmates have been screened. More than 700 patients have been treated for TB, of which 28 have been treated for multi-drug resistant TB.

Hausler says one TB patient can infect up to 20 others, meaning the early detection has led to the prevention of over 14 000 possible infections.

According to Delekile Klaas, regional commissioner of the department of correctional services, there is a 86.6% cure rate in prison across the Western Cape. He explains the department is looking at ways to expand Pollsmoor Prison’s successful programme to other prisons in smaller towns.


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