Push back TB frontiers - Mahlangu

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Taung - More than 30 000 patients receiving tuberculosis treatment in the North West have been urged to complete their treatment to avoid developing the Multidrug Resistant (MDR) and Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) strains of the disease.

Addressing a World TB Day commemoration on Wednesday in Pudumoeng township near Taung, under the theme "On the move to kick TB out", North-West MEC for Health and Social Development, Rebecca Kasienyane, said TB, a curable condition, continued to kill millions of people around the world.

"We urge the community of North West to fight TB together and take a lead in ensuring that we reach all our targets, such as our TB cure rate.

"TB is curable but many patients fail to complete their treatment. Because they default, many of them become victims of severe TB like (multidrug-resistant) MDR and (extreme drug-resistant) XDR," warned Kasienyane.

The province has 77 patients with MDR-TB in its facilities and 401 are treated as outpatients, while 14 are on XDR-TB treatment. TB accounts for 8.2% of the deaths in the province.

Kasienyane said the defaulter rate was a cause for concern in the department as non-compliance with treatment is the major contributing factor to patients getting MDR- and XDR-TB.

"Treating these strains of TB is very costly as compared to treating ordinary TB. This puts a huge strain on the department's resources."

She said all provinces' facilities are accredited to provide TB treatment.

"On top of that, we have a functional MDR- and XDR-TB unit in Klerksdorp Hospital, and we have also opened a new MDR-TB unit in Greater Taung Hospital for the down referral of stable patients," she said.

In Mpumalanga, MEC for health and social development Dikeledi Mahlangu commemorated the day at Ga Moroe Stadium near Siyabuswa in the Dr JS Moroka local municipality.

"Our province has the second-highest incidence of TB and a low cure rate. This situation requires continued vigilance and the harnessing of all available resources in public, private and civil society," said Mahlangu.

She added that it was critical to remove all forms of stigma associated with the disease.