The Eastern Cape Health and Treasury MECs have been given an ultimatum to either reply to a set of questions related to the staffing crises at Madwaleni and Livingstone hospitals, or face litigation.
Madwaleni, a 180-bed rural hospital, which as recently as three years ago had one of the best antiretroviral treatment programmes in Africa, is now operating with one Dutch doctor, who is only able to see complicated HIV and TB cases.
The overworked doctor has indicated that she will resign unless the situation improves, leaving the hospital with no doctor.
Two Clinical Associates, in their first year of employment, are working unsupervised.
South Africa’s health clinics are congested with thousands of patients burdened with the diseases of HIV, TB, and other infections.
While it was revealed recently that the United States and European drug regulators are pulling out all the stops to register bedaquiline, or TMC207, the South African Medicines Control Council (MCC) has shown no intention of following suit, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Many other countries with stringent regulations on drug safety - including France and the United Kingdom - are already providing bedaquiline under compassionate use regulations, despite the fact that they have far less patients.
MSF earlier sought commitment from the MCC to allow expanded access to the drug and hope that they will similarly fast-track the review process which could see the registration of the first new TB drug in over 50 years.
The School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape is a WHO Collaborating Centre, and has an international reputation as a leading research and teaching institution in Public Health. Its educational and research activities are wide-ranging, with a special focus on health systems research, primary health care, social determinants of health, priority conditions (including TB/HIV and chronic disease) and the implementation of district health systems. The School’s distance learning postgraduate programme, offered through a range of learning media, is unique in Southern Africa.
The North West health department has applauded the technological breakthrough in the new TB testing machine the Gene Xpert as a major step in fighting the disease.
The machine was recently unveiled by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and it can detect TB in two hours, reducing waiting time for those who test for the disease.
Health MEC Magome Masike said the development would complement the already successful record the province had posted in the fight against TB.
“The Gene Xpert is a new test machine for TB and it can find out if a person is infected with TB, and also if the TB bacterium of the person has resistance to one of the common TB drugs within two hours.
Many South Africans are too poor to access free healthcare provided by the state, mostly due to the cost of transport.
The cost of travelling to and from clinics or hospitals place even free health services out of reach of many poor South Africans, especially from remote areas of the country, Professor Di McIntyre said in a presentation on inequality in healthcare at the Carnegie III Conference focussing on Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Scientists have found an alarming number of cases of the lung disease tuberculosis in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America that are resistant to up to four powerful antibiotic drugs.
In a large international study published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, researchers found rates of both multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) were higher than previously thought and were threatening global efforts to curb the spread of the disease.
The state has to be held accountable for its failure to limit the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in prisons, the Constitutional Court heard on Tuesday.
TB is South Africa’s biggest killer and thrives in badly ventilated, overcrowded conditions. In South Africa’s understaffed prisons, where overcrowding can reach more than 200%, research has shown a 90% risk of transmission.
The outcome of this case will affect prisoners’ chances of successfully suing the minister if they get TB in prison.
On 28 August, the Constitutional Court will hear a case that touches the depth of what it means to be human and humane in the throes of a TB pandemic that is taking more South African lives than any other cause.
The price of a rapid diagnostic test, which slashes the time to reach a diagnosis for the most common drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, has almost been halved - including in South Africa.
The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNITAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an agreement that will significantly reduce the cost of the rapid TB diagnostic test Xpert MTB/RIF in 145 high-burden and developing countries.