News / Africa

Deaf South African TB Activist Carries Petition to World Health Assembly

Phumeza Tisile, cured XDR-TB patient, South Africa. Credit: MSFPhumeza Tisile, cured XDR-TB patient, South Africa. Credit: MSF
x
Phumeza Tisile, cured XDR-TB patient, South Africa. Credit: MSF
Phumeza Tisile, cured XDR-TB patient, South Africa. Credit: MSF

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
The lengthy and painful treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is one of the health topics to be discussed as leaders in world health at the 2014 World Health Assembly in Geneva.
 
As health ministers search for a revolutionary approach to the control, prevention of tuberculosis (TB) and the care of its victims, they will discuss a new 20-year strategy for the treatment of people who suffer from the extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). 
 
This week’s gathering of health ministers comes at a crucial moment for the more difficult-to-treat  XDR-TB, says Doctors Without Borders – also called MSF.
                   
Another significant highlight of the assembly is the delivery of over 33,000 signatures by South African TB activist and XDR-TB survivor Phumeza Tisile.  The petition called the 'DR-TB Manifesto,' urges world health leaders to focus on better drugs and diagnostics that thousands of XDR-TB patients need worldwide. 
 
MSF’s medical coordinator for South Africa and Lesotho, Dr. Gilles van Cutsem, says the petition has a dramatic purpose.
 
 “First of all, it is being handed over by Phumeza Tisile, who exemplifies how difficult it is to survive treatment for drug resistant TB, and to take treatment for drug resistant TB,” says Cutsem.
 
“She took more than three years of treatment, more than 20,000 tablets, more than one and one-half years of very painful injections which made her deaf, because that’s one of the side effects of the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB,” the MSF medical coordinator says.
 
Tisile came to the Geneva meetings this week because she wants to urge the health ministers to make the treatment accessible, says Cutsem.
 
"Today, out of 650,000 people, with drug resistant TB, only 80,000 are being treated,” says  the South Africa medical coordinator.
 
He says she is also asking leaders to make the treatment better, meaning make the treatment time shorter, with less side-effects, and without injections.
 
 In addition, Tisile is calling for funding to research better treatment options for drug-resistant TB.
 
“Treatment for TB, whether it’s multi-drug resistant TB or drug sensitive TB, most of the drugs are extremely old - date from the sixties.  Now, Phumeza accessed through Doctors Without Borders some newer drugs such as linezolid, which are extremely expensive in South Africa at the moment because of patents,” van Cutsem says. 
 
He said it is important that world leaders address the issues regarding drug-resistant TB such as prevention, access to treatment, and research for improved drugs. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is expanding across the globe, says van Cutsem, but the pharmaceutical response is vastly insufficient.
 
“We have bad drugs, says Dr. Cutsem. “We have insufficient research into making the drugs better and making a regimen shorter, and easier to take, and we don’t have very good programs to detect people with drug-resistant TB,” he says.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid