MCC continue to delay lifesaving drug

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.

Alarming levels of drug-resistant TB found worldwide

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.

Hold state accountable for TB infections in prison, court told

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.

Nurses as effective as doctors in treating HIV patients

SA government policy gets support from researchers at UCT and University of East Anglia, who identify nurses as preferred health providers for ART programmes.


Press Release: Nurse-centred care of HIV patients can be just as safe and effective as care delivered by doctors and has a number of specific health benefits, according to a new study led by the University of Cape Town (UCT) and University of East Anglia (UEA).

Price for rapid TB test slashed

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.

Alcoholics more likely to get TB

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.

South Africa scores poorly on “Saving Mothers”

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%).

Cuba, SA health deal is in good shape

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.

Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis - Policy Guidelines

Published by: 
Department of Health (South Africa)

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.