Drastic measures put in place to end TB

2019-04-16 06:00

Each year World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is commemorated on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB.

Globally, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer with nearly 4 500 people losing their lives to TB and close to 30 000 people falling ill with this preventable and curable disease each day. In Cape Town, this equates to three people dying each day from this curable disease and 61 people being diagnosed with TB each day.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a joint initiative with Stop TB Partnership: Find. Treat. All. #EndTB, with the aim of accelerating the TB response, and is calling on governments, affected communities, civil society organisations, health-care providers, national/international partners to unite forces to ensure that no-one is left behind.

South Africa has formally adopted global goals and targets to guide its response with the aim of ending TB in 2035. The TB programmatic response in South Africa is guided by the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (NSP 2017-2022), and aims to achieve the National 90-90-90 targets for TB as outlined in the Stop TB Partnerships’ Global TB Plan:

•to find 90% of all TB patients and place them on appropriate treatment;

•to find at least 90% of the TB patients in key populations (the most vulnerable including people living with HIV with low CD4 counts, people at-risk living in overcrowded informal settlements) and place them on appropriate treatment;

•to achieve 90% treatment success for drug-susceptible TB, and 75% for drug-resistant TB

The South African National TB Programme, is committed to finding the missing TB patients (the people who have TB but are not yet identified as such and are not on treatment) will be at the centre of its response in ending the TB epidemic. Interventions will aim to improve case detection within the broader population and also missed opportunities within public health facilities. City health is supportive of the National Department of Health’s initiatives and is committed to implementing these.

Focused activities to find the missing TB patients will ensure all those attending health facilities are screened for TB symptoms irrespective of their reason for seeking care at primary healthcare facilities. Those who screen positive for TB will be appropriately treated. Efforts will be made to ensure that all patients diagnosed positive for TB will be placed on a TB treatment programme, as those diagnosed patients not initiated on treatment (initial loss to follow up) pose a real threat to fuelling onward transmission. The primary focus for this strategy is to find patients not yet known or notified as being on TB treatment.

TB is transmitted via the air to close contacts and these exposed individuals are at higher risk of developing the disease particularly in the first year. Contacts that are particularly at risk are HIV-positive individuals and children under the age of five. Therefore, to find the missing TB patients, contacts including family members, workplace colleagues and classroom learners of a known TB patient need to be screened and tested for TB.

City Health is hosting events across the city during the month of March to raise public awareness about TB.

  • More details on these events are available at resource.capetown.gov.za


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