Health top brass visit children at Durban hospital

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretoria - Durban's King George V Hospital fell under the spotlight on Wednesday when Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramokgopa and KwaZulu-Natal's Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo visited children at the hospital ahead of World TB day on Thursday.

The Deputy Minister and MEC brought joy to the children as they distributed soccer balls, art equipment and other recreational material.

"EThekwini is the epicentre of the TB pandemic and King George Hospital manages 50% of the multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases in the province. What is sad is that children are increasingly suffering from TB because they get it from their parents, relatives and/or where they live," Dhlomo said.

King George Hospital has treated 323 MDR-TB cases in children and 33 extreme drug resistant TB cases since 1997. 

A school has now been opened at the hospital to ensure that children do not lose out on their education while they are receiving the 18-month long treatment. 

"Children are the hope of our future. Any country that fails to provide a safe environment for its children has a bleak picture for its future. We are very excited with the efforts that everyone is putting into this fight ... Let's do it for the kids!" Ramokgopa said.

South Africa, with a TB burden ranked third in the world, is one of the 22 high burden countries that contribute approximately 80% of the total global burden of all TB cases. 

About 407 000 cases of TB were identified in 2009, with KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape accounting for almost 50% of all cases.

South Africa's fight against TB is set to receive a major boost on Thursday when Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi unveils new technology to be used in the fight against TB at an event in Prince Mshiyeni hospital, Durban. 

The new technology is able to complete TB testing in two hours as opposed to the current three weeks.