Minister Mbombo visits Maitland Station and Brooklyn Chest Hospital in commemoration of the World TB Day
On 23rd March, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, visited the Maitland station to commemorate World TB Day. She spoke to commuters about the dangers of TB, the importance of getting tested, taking your treatment and committing to the treatment course.
The Western Cape Government Health is mobilising leadership from all sectors of society to play a more active role in the fight against Tuberculosis (TB), with a specific focus on drug-resistant TB to reduce new TB infection rates by 2030.
“The strategy to approach business leaders is to have a frank discussion with them about the role the sector should be playing in order to fight TB, not only at their respective businesses, but throughout society. TB has become a national killer as such, healthcare establishments can only do so much without the assistance from the different sectors as a whole society approach,” said Minister Nomafrench Mbombo.
After visiting the Maitland station, Minister Mbombo led a discussion with sector partners at Brooklyn Chest TB Hospital, where the importance of a whole-society response to ensure effective TB screening was discussed.
In particular the Department focused on engaging with these role players:
• Business leaders, civil society leaders (their role in promoting screening),
• Academics and researchers
• Patient advocates
• Health committee members (their role in promoting screening),
• TB patients (why screening is important) and
• NPO’s (their role in promoting screening).
• Interaction with staff and patients.
A Provincial strategic workshop was held in 2016, where senior managers engaged on ways of tackling the TB epidemic and identifying areas of focus to address the TB burden, together with other relevant government structures such as the Department of Social Development, Human Settlements, Transport and Public works. The TB Strategic Planning Workshop, led by the Head of Health, recognized the impact that TB has on the communities and identified that addressing the TB epidemic as a priority area of focus. The key message from this workshop was ‘doing the basics right’.
Since March 2015, two new DR-TB drugs have been added to the DR-TB drug programme- bedaquiline and linezolid. These drugs are extremely effective, and are now included in the treatment of all XDR-TB patients. As a result, patients with XDR-TB are feeling better faster and becoming non-infectious sooner and hence decreasing the defaulter rate.
The Department is also finalizing systems and processes for the roll-out of a shorter regimen of treatment, which is an opportunity to decrease the high defaulter rate. The shortened regimen could be an effective strategy to keep patients committed to complete their treatment due to shortening the length of treatment and minimizing the side effects which are common reasons for defaulting treatment.
The patient’s treatment journey includes facility based and community counselling inclusive of home visits to support and educate the patient and their families; this is undertaken by a Community-based DR-TB coordinators and counsellors within each district. The core functions of these staff are to educate the patient, counsel the family and educate on infection prevention control, screening the contacts and initiating the under 5 year old children on prophylaxis. The follow up and referral of these patients are also done by these personnel.
To pilot DR TB Adherence models, so that stable, adherent MDR TB patients within their Continuation phase receive pre-packed treatment within the community setting.
In 2016 there were 1594 drug resistant cases in the Western Cape compared to 1605 cases the previous year.
The Western Cape has the fourth highest number of new TB infections in South Africa (651.2 cases per 100 000). For 2016/17 the TB treatment success rate was 80.4%.
TB testimony from a patient’s perspective:
31-year-old Heinrich Petoors can attest to that. He spent his last day in Harry Comay TB Hospital on 26 February 2017 and is now living with his mother in Prince Albert. Henry has extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) and in his case, medically nothing more can be done for him.
“If I knew what I know now, I would have tried harder to look after myself and take my TB medication”, said Henry while coughing in his arm.
“Our Maitland Station visit was exactly for people like Henry, to create that awareness of the importance of doing TB screenings and what steps one should take to get treatment and be cured” concluded Minister Mbombo.