N West improves TB cure rate

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pretoria - North West Health MEC Dr Magome Masike has attributed the improvement of over 20 percent in the provincial TB cure rate to Directly Observed Therapy (DOT).

Speaking at the World TB Day commemoration held in Tloung village near Mahikeng, Masike noted that DOT supporters remained a key strategy in the fight against TB, and urged them to never relent in ensuring that TB outpatients complete their treatment as prescribed.

"DOT supporters are assigned by TB nurses to patients within their communities, whom they must assist with continuous support to comply with their treatment requirements to the end," Masike said.

The department has invested in about 800 DOT supporters since 2009 in an effort to improve cure rate and defaulter treatment.

The treatment outcome in the province has improved from 40.3 percent to 63.7 percent, with patients defaulting treatment also showing a decrease from 10.8 percent to 8.3 percent in the past three years. 

Masike stressed the importance for patients [about 30 000] receiving TB treatment to complete it as prescribed by health professionals and cooperate with DOT supporters. He reminded those gathered that TB is curable but many patients default and become victims of severe TB.

"Defaulter rate is a cause for concern since non-compliance to treatment is the major contributing factor to multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB and extremely drug Resistant (XDR) TB. Treating MDR/XDR TB is very costly as compared to treating ordinary TB and this puts a huge strain on the department, given the numerous and complex public health challenges it is facing."

On Wednesday, the provincial department unveiled a new MDR TB unit with extra 40 beds to deal with the epidemic.