The burden of Tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa remains a serious threat, to yet TB is the highest killer among men in the country and third among women. Just over 33 000 deaths were attributed by TB in 2015 according to the Stats SA Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2015: Findings from death notification.
While much of the country’s investment on health is placed at reducing HIV, TB and STIs by 2022 according to the set targets as reflected in South Africa’s National Strategic Plan. There are, however, serious concerns with regards to finding key populations infected by TB and decreasing the number of Multi-Drug Resistant (MD) TB patients. The Tuberculosis South Africa Project held its annual TB Symposium on 29-30 May 2017, in addressing missing TB patients through prioritising key and hard to reach populations, with inputs and contributions by a number of key industry sectors and organisations.
Presentations and research studies were shared, among such present were from the National Department of Health, The Aurum Institute, TB/HIV Care Association, University of Cape Town; Occupational Medicine Division, Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), International Organisation Institute for Migration and much other more. You can access the presentations here.
It is noteworthy to mention and applaud at the same time efforts channelled at lowering the infection of TB and increase in enrolling patients on treatment, while this is positive in a country where with the existence of socio-economic patterns are critically unequal and the burden of health care is heavily reliant on the public sector. Notwithstanding, the threat being, since enrolling patients on MDR-TB treatment, is MDR-TB and XDR-TB. ‘’Treatment success has just barely reached 55% on MDR-TB,’’ said S’celo S. Dlamini, Director of Research, Information, Monitoring, Evaluation and Surveillance, National Department of Health. In addition, it is estimated that South Africa spends about R200 000 on a single MDR-TB patient, placing further weight on the government to roll out treatment. Such a risk is placed by defaulting TB patients, those who are exposed to MDR-TB patients (these include health care workers), wrong TB drug prescription and poor quality drug supply.
Professor G.J Churchyard from the Aurum Institute notes that ‘’South Africa will not meet the End TB targets at the current rate of decline. In order to “bend the curve” effective interventions need to be scaled up.’’ Much like the HIV approach, TB in South Africa needs to be addressed in a similar line, thus intensifying care and support, follow up, tracking and reaching key populations, and finally, but not limited to the above, introduce strategic interventions and cross-cutting interventions.
Know more about TB facts by clicking here.
By: Muzikayise Mike Maseko