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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid