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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid