Fight TB together with HIV, says Health Minister

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mangaung – Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, says South Africa cannot win its fight against HIV/Aids as long as Tuberculosis remains one of the biggest killers in the country.

“We cannot win the fight against HIV if we don’t fight TB. We have to fight them together,” Minister Motsoaledi said on Friday.

He was speaking at Pelonomi Hospital in Mangaung where he launched the new drug regimen that is aimed at shortening the period of treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) to nine months. The roll out of the drug will also ensure that government saves up to R2 million in TB treatment.

The Free State will be the first province where the drug will be administered. It will also be extended to the Eastern Cape, followed by other provinces, said Minister Motsoaledi.

MDR-TB is a form of tuberculosis infection caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB medications (drugs), isoniazid and rifampin.

March 24 marks the World TB Day and South Africa commemorated this day last week with raising awareness on reducing TB infections in prisons, communities, schools and other public places. 

South Africa’s TB treatment success rate had improved dramatically over the years. In 2009, the country’s health facilities could only cure 71% percent of cases of ordinary TB. Minister Motsoaledi said that figure jumped to 84% by 2015.

According to Statistics SA, in 2007, 70 000 people died of TB. The figure had dropped to 33 000 in 2015, with Minister Motsoaledi saying it was still too high. Too many people were still dying from TB.

“We need to fight TB the way we fought Ebola. I was summoned to Parliament three times to assure the nation that Ebola is not going to kill them. Within that period, Ebola killed 11 000 people globally but in the same period, TB killed 1.5 million people but that doesn’t raise any temperature (sic),” the Minister remarked.

He said government believes TB prevention is crucial in the fight against HIV/Aids prevalence.

Today, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also launched the new National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs 2017-2021. The strategy is a framework to guide the activities of all partners whose work is relevant to HIV, STIs and TB in South Africa. – SAnews.gov.za

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