News / Africa

TB is Number One Killer in South Africa

FILE - Patients with tuberculosis (TB) and HIV wear masks while awaiting consultation at a clinic in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, South Africa.
FILE - Patients with tuberculosis (TB) and HIV wear masks while awaiting consultation at a clinic in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, South Africa.
As the world observes World TB Day on March 24 to raise awareness of the fight against tuberculosis, South Africa is struggling to conquer its top killer. Activists say more focus is needed on poor communities as drug resistant strains take hold and wreak havoc.  With 80 percent of the country's young adults already infected with TB, health experts say there is no time to lose.

This year South Africa commemorates World Tuberculosis Day under the theme "finding, treating and curing TB in hard to reach communities."

The World Health Organization said 482,000 of South Africa's 50 million people contracted TB every year and it wa the leading cause of death.

Of the 505,803 people who died in South Africa in 2011, 12 percent of the men and 10 percent  of the women died from TB.

This has AIDS activists and organizations worried - since AIDS patients are extremely vulnerable to TB. And South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.

Peter Mabulane, Community Services Manager at the South African National Tuberculosis Association, said poverty was the culprit when it came to accessing information and treatment for this curable disease.

"If you check the poverty stricken line in South Africa, that's where you find a lot of TB patients because they don't have good nutrition, they can't afford this, they are squatters. For you to win the battle against TB one of the main things is that you need to live a healthy living style, you need to eat proper food and we don't have that," he said.

Bongie Ndlovu is 39 and has been living for the last 10 years in an impoverished informal settlement south of Johannesburg. Her shack, at the foot of a hill, is surrounded by rotting and stinking garbage. She and her neighbors spend days and nights in the dark and in damp shacks due to poor ventilation and many have contracted TB as a result.

She said, "many people here will tell you they do not have TB, but you will see it if you look carefully. They are sick because of the filthy living conditions."

Dr. Ahmed Mohamed has operated a private surgery practice for years at Bekkersdal - one of the areas hit by violent protests in South Africa because of poor living conditions.

He said unless the government decentralized TB treatment centers to poor communities and improved general living conditions, the fight against TB was a lost cause.

"You can see we are surrounded by sewage overflows, water waste overflows, rubbish not being collected. It's all unhygienic and authorities are not listening," he said.

Mabulane said unless more resources were put into South Africa's sprawling, impoverished townships, the country would fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing TB deaths by 50 percent in 2015. 

He also proposed a new drug regimen and research to reduce the number of pills taken by TB patients each day.

"Five pills every day for six months, imagine if it was one pill everyday. Then we win the war. We're saying nutrition, healthy living style, community mobilization, then we win the whole war," he said.

Mabulane argued that with the Multi-Drug Resistant TB also taking a toll on the country's population, delays in taking action would only prove catastrophic for the country.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid