DURBAN, 3 July 2008 (PLUSNEWS) - The increasing number of South Africans contracting drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) demands a radically different approach than the current policy of isolating patients in specialised facilities for long periods. This was the message of several presentations at the first national TB conference, held in Durban this week.
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MEXICO CITY, 8 August 2008 (PLUSNEWS) - Tuberculosis (TB) is the biggest killer of people living with HIV in Africa, but only one percent of HIV-positive people accessing treatment were screened for TB in 2006, an oversight that activists say threatens to roll back the gains made in placing more than three million people on life-prolonging anti-retroviral (ARVs) treatment.
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Tianjin, People's Republic of China, 26 September 2008 - The Global Health Initiative of the World Economic Forum and The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership today launched an innovative toolkit which aims to boost the involvement of Chinese companies in tackling the TB crisis. The TB Toolkit for China is launched today at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, People's Republic of China. TB remains a major concern in China, despite the Chinese government's increased commitment to tackling public health problems, including additional public health funding.
"The National TB Control Programme at the Chinese Center for Disease Control has been involved in the development of this toolkit and firmly believes that it will be an important supporting tool for businesses who are seriously thinking about tackling TB in among their workforce, their families and dependants," commented Dr. Wang Lixia, Director, National Center for TB Control and Prevention, China. She added, ''We urge businesses in China to help us tackle this public health issue marring the socioeconomic well being of the country and its people''.
In a message released today, 24 March 2009, on the occasion of World TB Day, Dr. Luis Sambo, Regional Director of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa has called for the "rigorous implementation of the STOP TB Strategy, including universal coverage with DOTS (the Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course)" in order to significantly improve case detection and treatment outcomes.
He said that the most important element of DOTS is a regimen consisting of a combination of first-line drugs taken, ideally, under direct observation of a health care worker. The combination is known to be very effective against active drug-susceptible TB as long as patients are compliant and complete the entire six-to-eight month course.
"We must endeavour to put every single patient on quality TB Treatment and strive to minimize patient transfers, defaults and deaths", the Regional Director said.
by Fran Blandy,
Cape Town, 24 Mar 2009 - Hospitalising patients suffering from Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) and Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR) TB in order to isolate them from their crowded communities has often proved disastrous in South Africa.
Bored, depressed and ravaged by the treatment, which causes daily nausea and leaves 20 percent deaf, patients escape from the hospitals and abandon treatment, which encourages drug-resistance in the disease.
Floating above the top of the white mask stretching across her face, Lydia Pinzie's dark brown eyes are spirited and alert, despite nearly three years on toxic tuberculosis treatment.
Some white, some grubby, some askew, some comically large over the faces of toddlers; the sea of masks in the waiting room at a South African TB clinic harbour an often deadly drug resistant form of the virus.
SITEKI, 24 March 2009 (PLUSNEWS) - Kwanele Dlamini's motorbike can carry him to most rural homesteads in the eastern Lubombo Region of Swaziland, but he has to get off and walk the final rocky stretch to Solomon Ndwandwe's property and then duck a barbed-wire fence.
Ndwandwe, 58, approaches with slow, careful steps from a small plot of sweet potatoes, planted when he still had the strength for such things, and the two men seat themselves on the step in front of the house.
Dlamini is one of two tuberculosis (TB) medication adherence officers working on motorcycles out of the Good Shepherd Hospital in Siteki, the region's main referral facility. He is here to find out why Ndwandwe missed his last appointment at the hospital and what he can do to help him restart his treatment.
SITEKI, 25 March 2009 (PLUSNEWS) - Siphiwe*, 14, has not been to school for two years but can still fit into her uniform. She has a strain of tuberculosis (TB) that is resistant to most first-line drugs and can take two years or more to treat, but she stopped taking her medication four months ago.
She is reluctant to give a reason, saying only that the tablets were "becoming bitter", but there are a number of possible explanations. She had already endured six months of walking to her local clinic in Siteki in Swaziland's eastern Lubombo Region to receive painful daily injections, and was swallowing 11 pills a day, including antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to control her HIV infection.
TB patients who are resistant to two or more first-line drugs are managed by Swaziland's National TB Programme in Manzini, about 60 kilometres away, which meant that Siphiwe and her aunt, who is also her caregiver, had to beg and borrow money from neighbours to have bus fare for her monthly appointments.
There was also the daily struggle to find food to take with her pills, and the three-kilometre walk to collect water. Her aunt is blind, so these tasks fell to Siphiwe, despite her obvious difficulty in breathing and persistent cough.
"I tried talking to her about taking her pills," said her aunt, "but sometimes she was taking them without food and it made her sick."
by Gillian Wong,
Beijing, 30 Mar 2009 - The Beijing Chest Hospital was packed with people on a recent weekday morning. In the waiting area, Wang Chong, a migrant worker who has been fighting tuberculosis for several months, was facing a dilemma: Does he continue treatment that has already cost him more than $5,000 or stop before his savings are wiped out?
It's not only his health at stake. If Wang stops treatment prematurely, his tuberculosis is likely to morph into one of the new, hardier strains that resist the drugs he has been using and that pose a growing threat to global public health. Countries as diverse as China, Russia and South Africa are vulnerable, and the new strains have also appeared in the United States.
DURBAN, 1 April 2009 (PLUSNEWS) - Several years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the three most important ways of reducing the risk of tuberculosis (TB) in people living with HIV, who are highly susceptible to the airborne disease.
The strategy, called the "3 I's", includes "Improving TB infection control", "Intensifying efforts to diagnose TB cases", and "Isoniazid for six months" - giving HIV-infected patients six months of Isoniazid, a first-line TB drug, as a preventive therapy.
The approach was widely recognized as effective and feasible, and incorporated into a number of national TB policies, yet TB - the most common and life-threatening opportunistic infection in people living with HIV - claimed the lives of an estimated 230,000 HIV-positive people in 2008, according to WHO.