United effort to address TB

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Patient awareness project well received in Breidbach

THE Breidbach Clinic and its committee – in support of Bhisho sub district – held a tuberculosis (TB) awareness campaign at the community hall last week with hundreds of residents attending the meeting.

AWARENESS DAY: Residents filled the Breidbach Community Hall to attend an important meeting about TB awareness organised by the Breidbach Clinic last week. Many of the guest speakers, among them some from the health department, stressed the importance of patients sticking to the treatment regimen Picture: DESMOND COETZEE

The meeting addressed dangers of defaulting on TB treatment and to request public participation as to how to safeguard the community from the multi-drug-resistance (MDR) virus.

Clinic committee chairperson Desmond Coetzee said the campaign idea came about because patients defaulted on their treatment.

MDR is the term given when the bacteria that causes TB develops resistance to the antimicrobial drugs administered to patients to treat the disease.

“During our board meeting the issue was brought to our attention that the community was facing a major health challenge, with almost half of the TB patients defaulting on treatment which resulted in the MDR virus,” Coetzee said.

Dozens of people attended a TB awareness drive last week

“The danger is that any person who gets in contact with one of those patients is vulnerable to contracting the life-threatening virus.”

Among the guests were Acorn Valley committee leader Calvin de Lange, who acted as programme director, community spiritual leader Colin Ruiters, Acorn Valley ward committee and Breidbach Clinic committee member Tully Winnaar, Bhisho health department promoter practitioner Sizwe Mgangxa and Breidbach Clinic operational manager Yolisa Qamba.

During her presentation, Qamba said TB was a curable and preventable infectious disease caused by bacteria that spread through the air in small droplets when a person with infectious TB coughed, talked, sang or sneezed.

“When someone breathes in the bacteria they may become infected and could develop active TB disease or latent TB,” Qamba said. She said the symptoms of active TB were varied and included a cough for more than three weeks, high temperature or fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, extreme tiredness or lack of energy and coughing up blood.

Qamba mentioned that a total of 30 patients were defaulting on their treatment which brought sighs of shock among the audience.

“The reasons why MDR continues to emerge and spread are mismanagement of TB treatment and person-to-person transmission.

“ Most people with TB are cured by a strictly followed six-month drug regimen provided to patients with support and supervision,” Qamba added.

“You cannot see TB on someone, so it is imperative to come to the clinic for screening and testing.”

  • Mgangxa also announced that the health department in partnership with the Department of Education will conduct a survey on bilharzia in all schools in King and surrounding areas starting from next week.

Bilharzia, also known as schistosomiasis, is an infection caused by a parasitic worm that lives in fresh water. A total of 20 patients were also voluntarily screened.

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