Speaking at an event where South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe urged the mining industry to take greater steps to address tuberculosis (TB) and HIV among its employees, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu “announced that mining companies, whose HIV, TB and workplace safety policies are being audited by her department, will have to submit their policies as a prerequisite for renewing their mining licenses,” PlusNews reports. “According to Shabangu, South Africa’s mining sector sees three times as many cases of active TB as the general population,” the news service writes.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) — “a form of tuberculosis that does not respond to standard treatment and can kill in a matter of months” — “is much greater than previously thought,” VOA News reports. “‘Wherever we’re looking for drug-resistant TB we’re finding it in very alarming numbers. And that suggests to us that the current statistics that are being published about the prevalence of MDR-TB are really just scratching the surface of the problem,’ said Dr. Leslie Shanks, medical director for the group,” the news service writes (DeCapua, 3/21).
Saturday, March 24 was World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. The following is a summary of several editorials and opinion pieces published in recognition of the day.
The South African “government plans to bring down new HIV infection rates to zero in the next 20 years, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Saturday” at a World Tuberculosis (TB) Day even at the Goldfields mine in Carletonville, Gauteng, SAPA/Independent Online reports. “He said the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections (STI) would aim [to] eliminat[e] new HIV and TB infections, mother-to-child HIV infections, and have zero preventable deaths as well as discrimination associated with” HIV and TB, according to the news agency (3/26). Motlanthe also “launched a plan to diagnose tuberculosis in the country’s gold mines, where the disease’s incidence is the highest in the world,” Agence France-Presse writes, adding, “Motlanthe said the goal was to ‘ensure that all mine workers, particularly in the gold mining sector, are screened and tested for TB and HIV over the next 12 months'” (2/24).
Speaking on Saturday at a World Tuberculosis (TB) Day event, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “called for a global effort to diagnose and treat tuberculosis,” United Press International reports (3/24). According to the WHO, 8.8 million people contracted TB in 2010, and 1.4 million people died of the disease, primarily in low and middle-income countries, CBS News’ “Health Pop” blog notes (Castillo, 3/24). “Let us vow to end the neglect of TB and to end deaths from this disease in our lifetime,” Ban said, adding, “It is critical to support those who lack the means to respond with the care and treatment they need to enjoy healthy and productive lives. … With the right interventions, we can make a major difference,” according to the U.N. News Centre (3/24).
According to a study recently published in a special supplement of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, half of countries receiving grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provide tuberculosis (TB) services in prisons; “even when TB services were provided to prisoners, they were limited in scope; and “[f]ew of the programs receiving a grant from the Global Fund offered services dedicated to the treatment and prevention of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB),” an aidsmap news story reports. TB is a leading cause of death among incarcerated individuals worldwide, aidsmap notes. The study authors concluded, “There is an urgent need to better understand the financing needs and cost-effective service delivery models for tuberculosis care in prisons,” according to the story (Carter, 3/30).
A joint fact sheet on the U.S.-U.K. Partnership for Global Development is available on the White House website. “Through the Partnership, we are working together to achieve better results by advancing economic growth; preventing conflict in fragile states; improving global health, particularly for girls and women; strengthening mutual accountability, transparency, and measurement of results; and mitigating the effects of climate change,” the fact sheet states, elaborating on joint efforts in each of these areas (3/14).
Largest-Ever Study Of Community-Wide TB Drug Prevention Did Not Improve TB Control In South African Mines
“After seven years of research, the world’s largest study of preventative tuberculosis (TB) therapy has found that untargeted, community-wide distribution of TB prevention drugs did not improve TB control in South African gold mines,” PlusNews reports. “Conducted among 27,000 gold-mine employees in 15 mines, the Thibela TB study tested the theory that treating an entire community with the first-line TB drug isoniazid could result in long-lasting reductions in active TB cases and TB prevalence,” the news service writes (3/9). The study found that “provid[ing] community-wide isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT)” did “not improve TB control,” according to Health-e. “However, evidence showed that there were 63 percent fewer TB cases among individuals in the program during the first nine months of the program, providing reassurance that IPT works for people who take it,” the news service notes (Thom, 3/14).
As part of its series of interviews with CDC staff working on global HIV and tuberculosis (TB) research and development, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog spoke with Jordan Tappero, “who is currently serving as director for the Health Systems Reconstruction Office in the Center for Global Health, an office opened in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.” In the interview, “Tappero describes his early research in HIV and TB, thoughts on why Uganda is the only sub-Saharan African country not enjoying a reduction in HIV incidence, and how quickly HIV services were restored to people living in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake,” according to the blog (Mazzotta, 2/29).
“The Kenyan government’s recent failure to adequately treat a patient with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has some civil society organizations questioning whether the country’s TB program is equipped to diagnose and treat such patients,” PlusNews reports. “The government admits the TB program in Kenya has not been adequately funded despite the country’s big TB burden,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Kenya ranks 13th on the list of 22 high-burden TB countries in the world and has the fifth-highest burden in Africa.”