South Africa: TB cure rate on the rise in Gauteng

The latest cure rate statistics showed an increase from 64% in 2004 to 81% in June this year

Pretoria — The latest tuberculosis (TB) cure rate statistics in Gauteng show some success said the Department of Health and Social Development on Sunday.

According to the latest cure rate statistics, more than 80 percent of patients, who were screened, tested and diagnosed with TB in Gauteng's public health facilities have been cured of the illness.

Also known as the "white plague," tuberculosis is a contagious, airborne bacterial disease transmitted, among other things, through coughing and sneezing.

The cure rate statistics, which showed an increase from 64 percent in 2004 to 81 percent in June this year, makes Gauteng the province with the highest cure rate in the country.

These positive results, says the department, were achieved through programmes such as door-to-door campaigns by Community Health Workers and Directly Observed Treatment Support.

Through this approach, defaulters were traced and brought back for treatment. This has also ensured that more people are tested for the disease. In the 2010/11 financial year, 52 118 new TB cases were diagnosed.

In order to ensure that more people are cured of this illness, the Department will soon incorporate the TB programme within the Health Posts project.

The Department's awareness campaigns emphasizes that TB is curable after six months of treatment even in people living with HIV infection.

Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said: "I want to urge those who are on treatment to stay the course and complete treatment.

"Further I would like to appeal to everyone who may have symptoms to seek treatment before it is too late."

The signs and symptoms of TB are persistent cough for two weeks or more; night sweating, loss of weight, chest pain, coughing up blood, fever, chills, loss of appetite and tiredness.

To improve TB treatment, the province has two gene expert machines to shorten the time taken to diagnose TB from two weeks to two hours.

The machines are based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic and Edenvale hospitals because of the high prevalence of the illness in Soweto and Alexandra.

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Published: Sept. 6, 2011, 1:20 p.m.

Last updated: Sept. 6, 2011, 1:21 p.m.

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