The North West province has become the first province in the country to cure a patient who was suffering from Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR) Tuberculosis (TB).
Provincial Department of Health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane announced on Tuesday that the department recorded the first case in the middle of last year, but had to wait for a confirmation from the national department that the patient had not lapsed.
"We are happy to announce that we are the first province to successfully cure XDR TB. The national department of health's Communicable Disease Directorate only confirmed this at the beginning of March because the patient was still being monitored to make sure he does not lapse," said Lekgethwane.
According to the District Health Barometer, TB and HIV are still the main causes of death. But the Barometer reveals that some districts have shown great improvements in tackling these diseases.
The District Health Barometer (DHB) shows an improvement in the PCR testing coverage. PCR testing is done at six weeks on babies who are born to HIV-positive mothers. The number of babies getting tested has doubled to over 50% in the last two years. Out of those children who were tested, those found positive for HIV dropped from 7.5% to 3.6% last year. While a general improvement has been seen in HIV testing in ante-natal clinics, Limpopo province is in the lead.
WHO policy on collaborative TB/HIV activities: Guidelines for national programmes and other stakeholders
These policy guidelines on collaborative TB/HIV activities are a compilation of existing WHO recommendations on HIV-related TB. They follow the same framework as the 2004 interim policy document, structuring the activities under three distinct objectives: establishing and strengthening mechanisms for integrated delivery of TB and HIV services; reducing the burden of TB among people living with HIV and initiating early antiretroviral therapy; and reducing the burden of HIV among people with presumptive TB (that is, people with signs and symptoms of TB or with suspected TB) and diagnosed TB.
HIV may be the most immediate threat to healthcare in the country but health data gathered from hospitals around the country shows that violence and lifestyle diseases are taking a grievous toll on the health system.
The District Health Barometer, released in Pretoria on Thursday alongside the latest edition of the South African Health Review, showed that outside of HIV/Aids and opportunistic infections associated with it, such as tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease, the leading cause of premature death in the country is transport injury.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says his department will use the 2010/2011 District Health Barometer (DHB) to reflect and reassess its interventions for the coming years.
Speaking at the launch of the report, which presents snapshots of how the country's health districts provide primary care to the population, Motsoaledi said it confirmed progress in a number of government policies and interventions.
The DHB, which is issued annually by the Health Systems Trust, a research NGO, does not provide any form of complex analysis or in-depth research but rather points to districts that need improvement and support while identifying those doing well.
Health MEC Fezi Ngubentombi and her department kicked off the 2011-2012 financial year on a high note, promising to revitalise the health sector and inject new funds in the health sector that previously saw hospitals and clinics running out of essential drugs.
As a starting point, she promised to launch or relaunch forums that she saw as vital partners in the provision of health in the province, and more importantly, the Traditional Healers Forum and the district health councils of Lejweleputswa, Motheo and Thabo Mofutsanyana, as well as breathe new life into hospital boards and clinic committees of the same districts, among others.
Nokuzola Ndabazonke walks slowly to the chair in her physiotherapist's consulting room. She turns and painstakingly sits down. Two months ago she could not sit up straight by herself or use her hands and could hardly utter a word. She is also infected with HIV.
"She had TB of the brain and consequently suffered a stroke," says physiotherapist Laura Grobicki.
After intensive sessions with Grobicki, Ndabazonke's condition improved remarkably.
Doctor Ben Gaunt is puzzled. One of his HIV patients has just told him that he has run out of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs three weeks before he is due to collect his next monthly batch from the local clinic.
Gaunt calls the hospital pharmacist on his cellphone (there is no internal line) from a tiny, dilapidated consulting room in Zithulele Hospital in the former Transkei. He asks her to find the file of the patient who had been to see him because of "TB-like symptoms" and a sore throat.
Recently there has been broad media coverage worldwide about so-called totally drug-resistant TB. WHO has now released a Q and A on this issue.