Thohoyandou – Limpopo Health MEC Dr Norman Mabasa says efforts need to be increased to improve the cure rate for tuberculosis in the province.
Speaking during an event to commemorate the upcoming World TB Day (held on 24 March) in Siloam village outside Thohoyandou on Monday, Mabasa said the cure rate rose from 70.1% in 2009 to just 76.8% in 2011 in the province.
“Although the cure rate is improving, it is still lower than the World Health Organisation and the Millennium Development target of 85%," he explained.
He said the number of TB cases reported in the province increased from 6 286 in 2000 to 21 287 in 2010, which indicated an improvement in screening.
But the figures dropped to 19 957 in 2012, indicating that TB screening may not have been as effective.
The MEC noted that the proportion of patients who defaulted on treatment decreased from 7.7% in 2009 to 4.7% in 2011.
He stressed the need to continue treatment, even when patients started to feel well.
“TB is dangerous if one does not take the medication as instructed, and can lead to even more serious forms of TB like Multi-drug resistant TB and Extreme Drug-Resistant TB and even death,” added Mabasa.
The province will commemorate World TB Day under the theme “Zero TB and HIV infections, death, stigma and discrimination due to TB and HIV in my lifetime”.
Department spokesperson Snenhlanhla Gumede said March had also been declared TB Awareness Month.
“We have been engaged in a number of activities around the province. These range from door-to-door campaigns, road shows which targeted taxi ranks and shopping centers and health visits to households of TB patients.
“In these activities, we continue to educate the public about the services that are available to them free of charge and the importance of knowing their health status. We have also been providing services like TB screening, sputum collection, HIV Counselling and Testing...” said Gumede.
She added that their message is very clear: TB is curable.
“Everyone who has been coughing for more than two weeks, has fever and sweating at night, loss of appetite and weight, tiredness, a general feeling of illness, shortness of breath, chest pains and sometimes blood stained sputum, must visit any of our health facilities for proper and early diagnosis.
“All health care facilities within the five districts of Limpopo provide free TB services,” said Gumede. - SAnews.gov.za