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Stepping up the TB fight

Written by Samona Murugan
A R40 million Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) tuberculosis facility has been unveiled in the North West Province to help strengthen the TB cure rate in that province.

TB in the North West accounts for more than a quarter of deaths, while HIV-related illnesses account for 60 percent of deaths at the Klerksdorp/Tshepong Hospital complex. The current MDR TB cure rate in the province is 65 per cent, while the Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) cure rate is at 16,1 per cent.
Extra beds

The expansion of the MDR TB Unit at the Tshepong Hospital in Jouberton was unveiled by Provincial Health MEC Dr Magome Masike, where 40 extra beds have been placed in the unit.

The TB facility consists of an XDR unit catering for patients across the province and remains a pillar in the fight against TB. The province has 55 MDR in-patients and 419 outpatients, with only eight XDR in-patients. According to departmental spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane, MDR and XDR TB develop when patients don’t complete their prescribed treatment. This remains a main concern for the department.

Door-to-door

“Treating MDR/XDR TB is very costly as compared to treating ordinary TB patients. This puts a huge strain on the department, given the numerous and complex public health challenges it is facing,” said Lekgethwane.

The department has also stepped up efforts to reach communities through door-to-door visits and public places such as taxi ranks.

For more information, call the Department of Health: 012 395 8000