World TB day 2011

Journalists are being given information on tuberculosis and a tour ahead of the commemoration of the World TB Day on the 24 March 2011 at Umlazi’s Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital to be attended by the Minister of Health and the KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Dr Zweli Mkhize respectively. It is expected that the Minister will make groundbreaking announcement on the diagnosis, management and treatment of TB in the country on this day.

South Africa is ranked third in the world with a tuberculosis (TB) burden and is one of the 22 high-burden countries that contribute approximately 80% of the total global burden of all TB cases. About 407 000 cases of TB were notified in 2009, with KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape accounting for almost 50% of all cases. Nine of the high TB burden districts in the nine respective provinces account had about 155 000 TB cases. Of the several factors underlying South Africa’s TB epidemic, the following two are of paramount importance: (i) Late and inadequate detection of TB cases; and (ii) ineffective diagnostic techniques with results confirming TB made available after long period of time.

In the recent months the department has been able to trace and reach more than 1,2 million people who were tested for TB. This was through the implementation of the government’s Masisukume Sakhe programme which is a holistic programme involving all departments visiting communities.

The District Manager for eThekwini Mrs Sibongile Shezi ‘eThekwini is where one third of the KZN population resides. The district, in the last quarter of 2010, identified 2 300 new TB cases; adding to the more than 9 000 TB cases in the district.’

‘The numbers of people we are losing in the TB treatment programme are dropping from 12% to 10% in the last year. We hope the media will work with us in assuring people that TB can be cured if they remain in the treatment programme,’ said Mrs Shezi.

There have been great advances in the management of TB as well as preventing its spread in the country and KwaZulu-Natal in particular. These advances will be elaborated on by the Minister during the World TB Day commemoration on the 24 March 2011 at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital.

Meeting and greeting the journalists who have descended on Durban ahead of the event, the MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said; “We, together with my colleague from Mpumalanga, were commended by the Minister for our great work in malaria control. The vigilance and the effort put into malaria is commendable. The question is what else we can do to turn the tide against TB.’

“We are also lucky that we do not have very high HIV treatment defaulter rates to the point that we have to deal with resistance. The reason we have multiple drug resistance is because of two reasons: one system failure and secondly, demotivation of the patient to continue with the treatment. So, I do not want to speak of defaulter rates but rather interruption of treatment because when we speak of defaulters we are putting the blame on the patient. If we look closely we would find that the systems sometimes fail patients.”

Therefore the MEC said that healthcare workers must be in the forefront of the fight against TB followed by the population at large. The MEC indicated that he is much excited about the Minister’s visit on 24 March and looks forward to listening to his orders in the fight against TB.

Released by the Department of Health -24 March 2011

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