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.
Heavy drinkers are three times more likely to have tuberculosis than those who don’t drink heavily. They are also far less likely to complete their TB treatment. This is according to Professor Charles Parry of the Medical Research Council, who believes that TB patients should be screened for alcohol abuse and educated about its dangers.
“Heavy alcohol use is a risk factor for an impaired immune system and increases a person’s susceptibility to active TB infection and reactivation of latent disease,” Parry told the third South African TB conference yesterday.
Almost 5 000 women died while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth in South Africa between 2008 and 2010, more than in any of the previous years.
This is according to the Saving Mothers report that summarises findings on the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in South Africa between 2008 to 2010.
The “big 5” accounted for 86.5% of maternal deaths – Non Pregnancy Related Infections (NPRI) at 40.5% was by far the biggest factor.
The majority of these NPRI conditions were diagnosed before birth (59.7%), but the majority of deaths occurred after the births (60.6%).
Saving Mothers 2008-2010: Fifth report on the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in South Africa
The report covers the maternal deaths that were reported to the NCCEMD secretariat by 15th April 2011, and that occurred in the triennium 2008-2010. The same definitions used in previous Saving Mothers reports were used in this report.
FOURTEEN years ago, Kholekile Shasha joined SA’s nascent doctor training programme in Cuba, unaware of how controversial the state-sponsored initiative would turn out to be.
He came from a poor family, and had finished high school in the Eastern Cape with exam results just shy of the grades needed to study medicine in SA. He leaped at the chance of a free education in Cuba.
"I was disadvantaged in terms of colour, and access to education and finance," he says.
Key Issues in the Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
1. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is defined as tuberculosis (TB) disease where there is in vitro resistance to both isoniazid and rifampicin, with or without resistance to other anti-TB drugs. As isoniazid and rifampicin are the two most important first-line TB drugs, their removal through resistance from the anti-TB drug armamentarium has serious implications.
IN 2000, the leaders of 189 nations signed the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations (UN), pledging to free their people from poverty, illiteracy and ill health. This commitment gave rise to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the target date for the achievement of which is 2015.
The eight goals are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
The government plans to bring down new HIV infection rates to zero in the next 20 years, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Saturday.
Motlanthe was addressing workers and dignitaries at the Goldfields mine in Carletonville, Gauteng on the occasion of world tuberculosis (TB) day.
He said the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections (STI) would aim at eliminating new HIV and TB infections, mother to child HIV infections, and have zero preventable deaths as well as discrimination associated with the two viruses.
The fight against new, antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis has already been lost in some parts of the world, according to a senior World Health Organisation expert. Figures show a 5% rise in the number of new cases of the highly infectious disease in the UK.
Dr Paul Nunn, head of the WHO's global TB response team, is leading the efforts against multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Nunn said that, while TB is preventable and curable, a combination of bad management and misdiagnosis was leaving pharmaceutical companies struggling to keep up. Meanwhile, the disease kills millions every year.
South Africa has made much progress in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) in recent years. However, national health spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said that much more still needed to be done to ease the burden of the disease.
“We are working hard to reach the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.
Hadebe wouldn’t say much about South Africa’s progress in reaching the 2015 targets. He said thatt the matter would be addressed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Saturday during World TB Day.
Despite advances made in the access to TB treatment, the disease is now the leading cause of death in the country.