A TB Test, Treatment and Cure for All | Western Cape Government

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A TB Test, Treatment and Cure for All

24 March 2014

Strengthening of community outreach links and tracing projects are focus areas for the Western Cape Government Health in collaboration with the various NPOs and other governmental departments to help fight the spread of TB. This is a disease that can be cured.

The theme for this year’s World TB day is: "Reach the three million – a TB test, treatment and cure for all."

The Western Cape Government Health has allocated a 7.17% increase to the 2014/15 budget to TB hospitals.  This is a nominal increase of R16.134 million. Two of the six TB hospitals offer an outpatient service (and is a result of earlier strategies to manage drug-resistant cases in an ambulatory manner). Current headcount reflects a mixture of cases and services being offered at these two hospitals.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha says: "We need to partner to overcome this challenge. Government needs NGO's to address our TB challenges. Also, if you know someone who is on TB medication, remind them to take their medication religiously".
Of major concern in the Western Cape is the rising incidence of MDR-TB (Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis).

Clients Initiated onto Drug Sensitive TB      

Cure Rates




(figures not available yet)


















(These cure rates are retrospective due to the duration of the TB treatment and reporting of the data.)

However, great progress has been made in the treatment and early detection of TB. MDR-TB is caused by improper use of antibiotics in treatment of drug-susceptible TB patients. This improper use is a result of a number of actions including, administration of improper treatment regimens and failure to ensure that patients complete the whole course of treatment. A patient who develops active disease with a drug-resistant TB strain can transmit this form of TB to other individuals.

The Department gives considerable attention to the serious threat of caring for a large population of HIV infected individuals, who are at risk for opportunistic infections such as TB and especially drug-resistant TB. Early case detection and case-holding of TB is therefore paramount and considerable attention is thus given to these areas to ensure optimal programmatic outcomes can be reported.

Although the TB cure rate of 81.5% for new smear positive cases was very good, the TB defaulter rate was higher in 2012 (7.8%) than previously. This is attributed to structural and social drivers, e.g.:

  • Poor comprehension of the implications of carrying a TB diagnosis.
  • Mobile (migrant) populations.
  • Prevailing unemployment, wherein temporary employment of short  duration is considered more valuable to the patient than completing the course of treatment.

An estimated 1.8% of new TB cases in South Africa are diagnosed with MDR-TB and 6.7% as retreatment cases with MDR-TB.

What is TB?

TB is a disease that is caused by a germ called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The germ usually attacks the lungs, but can attack any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine and brain. If it is not treated properly, TB can kill.

How do You Know if You Have TB?

If you have been coughing for two weeks or more with or without the following symptoms you could have TB:

  • Sweating at night.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Tiredness.

If You Suspect You Have TB

  • Go to your local clinic immediately for a free test.

If You Have TB

  • Start taking your medication immediately.
  • Take your medication for the full six months.
  • Treatment is provided free of charge.
  • Ask someone to help you stick to the treatment plan - a health care worker, a friend or a family member.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle - eat healthy foods and exercise.
  • Stop smoking and abusing alcohol.

If You Stop Taking the TB Medication before the Full Six Months You Can:

  • Spread the infection to other people.
  • Fall sick with complicated TB disease.
  • Develop the resistant form of TB disease.

What is MDR-TB?

MDR-TB is a special form of TB that does not respond to ordinary TB treatment. It is difficult to treat and needs specialised treatment. The symptoms of MDR-TB are the same as ordinary TB and it is spread in the same way as ordinary TB.

What is the Treatment for MDR-TB?

  • Treatment lasts for two years.
  • A person with MDR-TB is hospitalised for six months or more.
  • For the first six months daily injections are given.
  • Different kinds of oral medication is also given and must be taken daily.
  • It is important to take all the medication and have the injections because they work together to kill the germs.
  • Medication must be taken daily for two years, to be cured.

What is XDR-TB?

XDR-TB is another special form of TB, which does not respond to treatment for MDR-TB. It is much more difficult to treat because there are fewer drugs that can be used to treat it. The symptoms are the same as ordinary TB and MDR-TB and it is spread in the same way.

What is the Treatment for XDR-TB?

  • Treatment lasts for two or more years.
  • A person with XDR-TB is hospitalised for six months or more.
  • For the first six months, daily injections are given.
  • Different types of medication is also given and must be taken daily.
  • It is important to take all the medication and have the injections because they work together to kill the germs.
  • Medication must be taken daily for two years to be cured.
Media Enquiries: 
Emerantia Cupido
Principal Communications Officer
Western Cape Government Health
Tel: 021 483 3563
Fax: 086 606 1653