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Patient support crucial for fighting TB

Written by Dale Hes

The USAID Tuberculosis South Africa Project is proving to be a perfect example of how government, communities and NGOs can partner together to combat tuberculosis (TB) by providing proper support to patients.

South Africa has taken a position of leadership in the global fight against TB, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has stepped in to provide assistance.

The five-year project, which started in 2016, is being carried out in partnership with the National Department of Health in eight of South Africa’s provinces. 

One of the most important parts of the project is to support community-based NGOs. The project provides funding to 21 NGOs who have supported more than 3 500 patients, the majority based in rural areas.

Free State progress

Based in Mangaung, Mosamoria is one of the NGOs which has received funding from the project. The organisation has a team of community health workers, a project manager and a data capturer who all work towards ensuring that patients stay on treatment so that they can be cured in a six month period.

“We employ 74 care givers for this project. Initially we worked with 200 patients, then 400 patients, and in our current contract we have 500 patients who we work with on a daily basis. The patients are referred to us when they have been diagnosed as having TB from nine different clinics in the Mangaung Metro,” says Mosamaria coordinator Trudie Harrison.

Mosamaria conducts monthly door-to-door screening campaigns to find new TB patients and get them on treatment immediately.

Harrison says that Mosamoria’s work has reduced the stigma around TB, built close relationships with the community and also led to much better rates of successful treatment.

“For example, in 2018, 514 of our patients were cured,” Harrison says.

Harrison shares the story of one of Mosamaria’s patients. He was given daily support by a Mosamaria caregiver, who ensured that he swallowed his tablets every day and also assisted with maize meal and new clothes.

“He completed the treatment and was cured. He went back to work as his employer had kept his job for him,” says Harrison.

Know the symptoms of TB

If you have some of the following symptoms, then you should visit your nearest clinic or hospital to be tested for TB:

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks;
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Chest pain, or pain when breathing or coughing;
  • Unintentional weight loss;
  • Fatigue;
  • Fever. 

For more information about the USAID TB South Africa Project, contact 012 484 9300.