John Fagan

TB treatment takes centre-stage

Tuberculosis (TB) is curable and is easy to diagnose, yet 37 South Africans on average die of the disease every day, and it has become a national health priority. Several pharmaceutical companies involved in the development and production of TB medication are focusing their CSI efforts in the area of TB research and treatment. The project, dubbed Action TB, started about 10 years ago to find an effective cure for TB. Another element of Action TB has been to work with Cape Town communities, some of which have the highest TB prevalence in the world. For example, we support an income-generation project for people who are HIV positive and have TB, says Ehrich. They are trained in crafts and acquire skills such as pottery, beading and sewing, and there is a crèche for their children. We buy a lot of their merchandise and put our branding on it to hand out as corporate gifts, which contributes to the sustainability of the project. Aventis has been involved for many years in addressing the TB challenge through research grants and education initiatives, culminating in the formation of the TB Free Project. TB Free was established in association with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the health department. The project aims to convey the message that TB is curable, and to eliminate the stigma surrounding the disease because of its association with HIV/AIDS. The TB Free Project will establish nine TB centres, one in each province, and has conducted a needs analysis to determine each province's requirements. The centres will be centrally located and will use mobile units, to reach outlying communities. (Source: Business Day , 7 February 2003)