News / Africa

Tuberculosis Linked to HIV Is Biggest Killer in South Africa

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death in South Africa. A more dangerous form of the disease, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is gaining ground in the country. The World Health Organization reports an estimated 440,000 MDR-TB infections occurred around the world in 2008 and one-third of those infected died. Lisa Schlein has this report for VOA from the King George Hospital in Kwazulu Natal, a leading center of MDR-TB expertise.

Sister Flora Nsubane shows a group of visitors around the King George Hospital in Kwazulu Natal, a world leader in the treatment of tuberculosis. They wear masks to protect them from getting infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB.

"This is a 32-bedded ward…It is always full because it is the only TB ward that we have," said Nsubane.

Patients who are sick with more virulent strains of MDR-TB and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis or XDR-TB, stay in separate wards.

The children's ward is spotlessly clean but largely empty because most of the children are at a school run for them by the hospital. A couple of toddlers are quietly playing on the floor.

A baby girl in a highchair fixes her big dark eyes on Sister Suminthra Sukmandam, the nurse who is feeding her.

"The baby is having a soft diet, which is prepared from the kitchen. It is pureed butter nut, pureed chicken and also mashed potato," she said.

Sister Sukmandam says the baby is four months old and was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago. "She's got multi-drug resistant TB and she has been the same. Her appetite is improving," she added.

Sister Flora says the survival rate for children with MDR-TB is about 80 percent because they are kept in the hospital up to a year where their treatment is closely supervised. She says adults are admitted for six months and once their sputum is negative they are sent home.

"Then they continue with out patient treatment. And, at home, we have discovered that family members are not good support teams. Why? If the patient says I am tired of taking eight tablets a day and maybe the family member says no, it is O.K., you can take it tomorrow," she said. "And then that increases resistance and they take long to be cured. "

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease, which affects the lungs. It is associated with poverty and spreads widely among people living in overcrowded, dirty places. It is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics. MDR-TB strains are increasing because people do not always take the drugs properly. MDR-TB and the more severe form of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis do not respond to the standard six-month treatment with first-line anti-TB drugs. It can take two or more years to treat these diseases with drugs that are less effective and more expensive than the drugs used to treat ordinary TB.

Thirty-six-year old Samkelisiwe is a single mother of a 17-year old boy. She says she took treatment for ordinary TB last year. On April 26 she was admitted to the hospital and found to have XDR-TB

Samkelisiwe says that in September, 2009, she went to the clinic because of severe weight loss. She says she was coughing up sputum, which was diagnosed as TB. She says she did not respond to the TB treatment and later learned she had XDR.

People living with HIV are at great risk of developing tuberculosis. WHO reports TB has tripled in the past 15 years in countries, such as South Africa, with high HIV prevalence.

Sister Flora says at one time, TB and HIV were treated in isolation. But now, she says, all patients admitted to King George's hospital are treated for both HIV and drug resistance at the same time.

"So, if the patient comes here for TB, the following day we do counseling for HIV and 27…we initiate treatment," she said.

The World Health Organization reports MDR-TB threatens to become the dominant strain of TB over the next few decades. It says significant investment into research and development of new drugs and possible vaccines is needed. Yet, relatively little money is allocated for TB control and research. The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is one of the few international agencies that funds multi-drug resistant TB. Currently, it provides money for treatment for 30,000 people with MDR-TB though there are nearly half a million people infected and in need of treatment.

You May Like

Ebola Brings Sickness, Fear, Anger

Cornell University Professor Stacey Langwick considers cultural, social aspects of outbreak More

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

Violent Quarantine Clashes Hamper Liberia's Struggle to Contain Ebola

Anger, misinformation and mistrust of government hampering efforts to contain the deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
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 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.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid