/ 31 August 2007

Eastern Cape hit by rise in TB

The Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area is grappling with an increasing number of tuberculosis (TB) cases, with about 250 new patients being admitted to the Livingstone and Dora Nginza hospitals each month.

In addition to this, over 200 new multidrug-resistant TB patients are transported from throughout the province to the Jose Pearson Hospital in Bethelsdorp each month, according to Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex CEO Lulamile JamJam.

TB control specialists have appealed to businesses to prioritise TB in the workplace and put in place programmes to strengthen the community’s response to TB, the Herald Online reported on Friday.

According to the national TB crisis management plan, the Eastern Cape is ranked second in the country in numbers of patients referred to hospitals and the low cure rate recorded.

KwaZulu-Natal has the most TB cases, followed by Eastern Cape and then Western Cape and Gauteng.

In an effort to create awareness, national experts on TB control met business leaders and councillors in Nelson Mandela Bay during a TB breakfast briefing this week.

The theme of the function, which was initiated by the Health Department, the United States Agency International Development and the University Research Corporation, was managing TB in the community and workplace.

In spite of the challenge posed by TB, speakers were optimistic and emphasised that the war could be won. The disease should not be the country’s leading cause of mortality, but victory needed a concerted effort.

”TB is a critical public health problem, but it is also a social issue. We will not get this pandemic under control without strengthening our health systems,” said Dr Lindiwe Mvusi, head of the national TB control programme. — Sapa