World TB Day - Worry over high default rate of patients on TB medication

2018-03-24 21:23

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Concerns have been raised by City of Johannesburg’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health and Social Development, Dr Mpho Phalatse, about the high default rate of patients who are on the Tuberculosis (TB) treatment programme.

Phalatse’s concerns come as the world commemorates on Saturday World TB Day, which aims to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of the disease.

Phalatse said TB continued to be the top infectious agent worldwide, claiming over 4 500 lives a day, and was aggravated by the emergence of Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) strains.

The disease is often associated with HIV, and in South Africa, 60-70% of TB patients are HIV co-infected.

Phalatse said of the 14 648 TB cases tracked by the City’s health department in 2016, 12 797 were initiated on treatment.

READ: Government should also look at itself when it came to the fight against TB - Mabuza

“Of the 12 797, only 9,669 completed treatment, 852 defaulted from treatment, 3 128 were cured, with 740 deaths,” she said.

“I’m concerned about the high default rate in some areas in the City. Though our Community Health Workers are available to track defaulters and provide treatment support, their efforts are often hampered by the provision of wrong addresses when patients open files at the clinic.”

“We believe this is because of a fear of being turned away if they (patients) do not reside within the clinic’s geographic catchment area,” said Phalatse.

She said her department had made it clear, however, that patients were welcome to attend any clinic of their choice and that they should report any incidents of staff refusing to assist them.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global TB Report 2017, estimated that about 10.4 million people fell ill with TB, resulting in 1.3 million deaths among HIV-negative people, making it the ninth leading cause of death worldwide.

While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty and compromised environments, including those with diseases such as HIV/Aids and factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol abuse, as well as diabetes affect vulnerability to TB and access to care.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  hiv  |  health  |  tb

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