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News Outlets Examine Efforts To Control TB In South Africa

Agence France-Presse examines the ongoing fight to control the spread of tuberculosis in South Africa. “The World Health Organisation estimates almost one percent or 461,000 South Africans develop TB annually, with government figures showing that the disease was the country’s leading natural cause of death in 2006,” the news service writes. 

During a meeting of HIV/AIDS and TB health experts in Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday, South Africa’s deputy health minister Molefi “Sefularo said South Africa’s current cure rate of about 65 percent was significantly better than the 51 percent it had in 2004, but was far below the WHO’s recommended cure rate of 85 percent” (10/12).

Sefularo also expressed concerns that “the country was in danger of not reaching the goal of halving [TB] prevalence and death rates by 2015, compared with their levels in 1990,” SAPA/IOL reports. The article examines the challenges of treating “both multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extremely drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) and their lethal combination with HIV in some areas of the country” (10/12).

In related news, PlusNews examines the success of the Church of Scotland Hospital at Tugela Ferry in South Africa, “internationally recognized for its handling of TB cases” after being an “epicenter of a deadly outbreak” of MDR- and XDR-TB three years ago. “Dr. Lindiwe Mvusi, head of the national health department’s TB unit, said the Church of Scotland Hospital and the district as a whole had been very successful in identifying potential TB cases, diagnosing patients, and quickly putting them on treatment. The hospital achieved a TB cure rate of 83 percent in 2008,” according to PlusNews (10/9).