Mar 2008

Health advice - TB: get tested and complete your treatment



March 24 is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. On this day, countries all over the world will remind people of the importance of testing for TB early, starting treatment as soon as possible and completing treatment. 
TB can be prevented and it is curable. Government is working hard to provide treatment and to reduce some of the major causes of TB, like poor nutrition and lack of proper housing.


TB patients who do not complete their treatment, make it very difficult for government to fight the disease.
It costs government R400 to start treatment for one TB patient. This cost can go up to R24 000 for Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) TB.


If you are infected it is important that a health worker checks that you take the correct medicine regularly for a specific period of time. By examining you regularly, the health worker will see whether your treatment is working, and whether you have any other health problems.
It takes about six months for TB to be cured completely, but within two weeks of starting treatment, you will no longer spread the disease.
If you do not take all your medicine, you will not be cured and you will continue to spread TB to others in the family or community. It is dangerous to stop your treatment, because even if you start again later, you may never be cured.

How is TB spread?

TB is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or spits without covering his or her mouth and nose. Germs are spread into the air and when others breathe them in, they may become infected.

- Ndivhuwo Khangale

Signs of TB

  • If you have any of these signs, get tested at your nearest clinic as soon as possible. Testing is free.
  • coughing for longer than two weeks or coughing up blood
  • chest pains
  • tiredness and weakness
  • weight loss
  • night sweats, even when it is cold
  • How to prevent TB from spreading
  • Get tested, take medicine regularly and don't stop until you are cured, even if you feel better.
  • Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and spit in a tissue.
  • Open windows and doors to let fresh air into the house.
  • Who should be tested for TB?
  • All children younger than five years should be examined for signs of TB, especially if family members have TB. Young children can get very ill from the disease.
  • Anyone who shows signs of TB, like coughing for two weeks or more, or sweating at night, should be tested for TB.

Use gas for cooking and heating; it is more efficient and saves electricity

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