Unite to conquer tuberculosis during World Tuberculosis (TB) Month

The month of March is World Tuberculosis (TB) Month and the City of Johannesburg is joining the world in creating awareness of this deadly disease and how to prevent it.

The following is compiled from the World Health Organisation Global Tuberculosis Report 2013:

  • The TB infection rate (number of new cases within a given time period) in South Africa stands at 1 000 or more cases per every 100 000 people.
  • Roughly 65 percent of people who have TB are also HIV-positive.
  • South Africa has the third highest TB infection rate in the world. China has the second highest, and India has the highest number of new TB cases worldwide.
  • India and South Africa accounted for one-third of the 1.3 million TB deaths globally.
  • The South African TB theme for this year is Unite to end TB. The City of Johannesburg’s Region E continues the fight TB and will increase screening and testing in the community so that those who are sick can receive treatment in time and be cured.

The TB epidemic in the country and Alexandra, in particular, is still a burden that requires that the community unifies and supports efforts to combat the disease. The high rate of HIV infection is also worsening the situation as more than 50 percent of HIV patients are also infected with TB.

Achievements in region:

  • The regional TB cure rate remained above 80 percent last year.
  • More than 70 percent of people who are HIV-positive and infected with TB have started on ARVs.
  • TB case finding is high, showing that more people are being diagnosed.
  • The death rate has remained low due to many people who are taking both TB medication and ARVs.

Challenges in the region:

  • High defaulter rate due to many patients who live nomadic lives, or patients just don’t take their medication.
  • Community members who give wrong addresses remains a big problem in the region.
  • Poverty due to high unemployment rates.
  • Overcrowding, as many people live in informal dwellings.
  • Seeking treatment from health facilities too late.

The above challenges show that the community has a lot of work to do to ensure that support is provided to all the people on treatment. This support helps the patient remain on treatment.

Health education, which is provided to everyone, should be used in people’s everyday lives to prevent infecting others with the TB organism. TB treatment and ARVs are provided at all the facilities in the region, which means that treatment has been taken closer to the people for all to access.

Activities for the month:

  • Door-to-door visits by community health workers to provide awareness about TB.
  • Health education to be provided daily at all health facilities.
  • Distribution of TB pamphlets.
  • Intensified case finding through screening at all facilities.
  • Testing for TB (through sputum).

Details: Refiloe Lepee 011 582 1663.

Sipho Siso

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