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City urges TB patients to go the distance<p>​With World Tuberculosis Day on Saturday 24 March 2018, we are reminded once again of the destructive impact TB has on the health of communities. According to the World Health Organisation, TB is the ninth leading cause of death worldwide despite the fact that it is both preventable and curable.<br> <br>In Cape Town there has been a decrease of nearly 24%  in the number of reported TB cases in the last eight years, from 29 726 in 2010 to 22 681 in 2018. While this is good news, this incidence is still at an alarmingly high level.  </p><p>In 2015, a new drug was introduced for the treatment of drug-resistant TB, and in October 2017 a shorter treatment regimen of nine to 12 months was introduced. It is encouraging to note that patients receiving the new medication are responding to treatment better, and have improved their treatment outcomes. It is hoped that the shorter treatment duration means more patients on drug-resistant TB treatment will complete their treatment.</p><p>Our health staff have also embarked on an active surveillance programme to systematically screen all adults seeking healthcare at City facilities for TB in order to identify undiagnosed cases, and activate testing and treatment.<br> <br>The diagnosis of TB is reliant on persons with symptoms presenting themselves at healthcare facilities. Many people with active TB are asymptomatic in the early stages, are unlikely to seek care early, and may not be properly diagnosed when seeking healthcare. People with undiagnosed, untreated, and potentially infectious TB are frequently seen in health facilities. One person with infectious TB can infect another 10 to 15 people. Clients with undiagnosed infectious TB pose a risk of transmission of TB in health facilities and continued transmission in communities.<br> <br>For our healthcare workers, the challenge is to get undiagnosed patients tested and treated as soon as possible. Symptoms that could indicate the presence of TB include a persistent cough for more than two weeks, unintended weight loss of more than 1,5 kilograms within a month, an ongoing fever, or drenching night sweats. Furthermore, if someone has had contact with someone with TB, or has had TB before and develops any of these symptoms, they should immediately report to a health facility for TB testing. Clients who have had a TB test done at a health facility need to return later to receive the test results.<br> <br>Another challenge is that one out of every 10 clients started on TB treatment does not complete the full six months of treatment (for drug-sensitive TB). Even more are not completing their full course of drug-resistant TB treatment, which is longer and needs different drugs to those used for drug-sensitive TB. Treatment adherence is difficult for clients, partly due to the long duration of treatment, but recently there has been progress in addressing these challenges.</p><p>As with most health challenges we face in our communities, this is a shared responsibility. I encourage the public to openly engage with health matters that affect them, and to support those living with the disease. Caregivers are encouraged to bring all children younger than five years old to their nearest clinic to be screened if they are in close contact with an adult with TB. Healthy children will receive preventative medication (prophylaxis), while children who are unwell will be started on TB treatment if needed.</p><p>Stigma remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks to patients accessing lifesaving treatment, but it does not have to be that way.</p><p><br><strong>End</strong><br></p>2018-03-21T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891d;GP0|#904f8ac3-ad18-4896-a9a8-86feb1d4a1b7;L0|#0904f8ac3-ad18-4896-a9a8-86feb1d4a1b7|StatementsGP0|#0b858893-1ef6-46d3-9364-6c1c772e881d;L0|#00b858893-1ef6-46d3-9364-6c1c772e881d|Clinics;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#413548c2-a54f-46e4-b80d-76181c4aa8b8;L0|#0413548c2-a54f-46e4-b80d-76181c4aa8b8|TB;GP0|#dc31f66f-3a68-44f8-9a36-9bb965c247ac;L0|#0dc31f66f-3a68-44f8-9a36-9bb965c247ac|caregiving1

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