Fingerstick blood test shows promise for TB screening

Fingerstick blood test shows promise for TB screening

The World Health Organization estimates that over four million of the almost ten million people who fell ill with tuberculosis in 2020 were not diagnosed. One obstacle to more people being diagnosed is the fact that most current tests require people to produce sputum – something children and some people living with HIV find difficult. Tiyese Jeranji looks at a new fingerstick blood test that may help diagnose more people quicker.

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Important TB drug as effective at lower dose, study finds

Important TB drug as effective at lower dose, study finds

The treatment of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis has been transformed over the last decade with treatment becoming more effective, safer, and treatment duration in many cases dropping to under a year. Even so, treatment can still come with serious side effects and for some, it can still last over a year and a half. In a finding that may help further reduce side effects, new research has found that the dosage of a key drug can be lowered without compromising how well it works. Tiyese Jeranji and Marcus Low report.

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Opinion: Six ways clinics can help turn the tide on TB infection

Opinion: Six ways clinics can help turn the tide on TB infection

Six simple interventions are at the heart of how clinics can be part of turning the tide on TB infection. By following a checklist of good practice, clinics can be safer for patients and staff. However, most clinics are failing to implement enough of these measures, putting people at risk of getting TB while waiting at the clinic, argues representatives from the community clinic monitoring group Ritshidze.

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SA piloting mobile X-rays to improve TB detection

SA piloting mobile X-rays to improve TB detection

South Africa’s first National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey found that many people without TB symptoms nevertheless have TB disease that can be detected using chest X-rays. Accordingly, new mobile X-ray screening programmes are being piloted in a number of provinces. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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400 people in SA with highly drug-resistant TB to get new three-drug regimen

400 people in SA with highly drug-resistant TB to get new three-drug regimen

Treating highly drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis can take anything from nine to 24 months and patients have to contend with various unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, side effects. A new six-month regimen made up of just three drugs that will be offered to 400 patients in South Africa might offer a better solution for some. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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Sub-clinical TB: Fascinating SA research helps push frontiers of TB science

Sub-clinical TB: Fascinating SA research helps push frontiers of TB science

While likely millions of people in South Africa have latent tuberculosis (TB) infection, only between three and 10% of these people ever fall ill with TB. Cutting-edge research conducted in South Africa has now taken us a significant step closer to a test that can predict who will and who will not fall ill with TB. Such a test, if simple and affordable, could potentially revolutionise TB prevention efforts.

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X-rays and AI could transform TB detection in SA, but red tape might delay things

X-rays and AI could transform TB detection in SA, but red tape might delay things

New World Health Organization guidance released this week endorses the wider use of chest X-rays and artificial intelligence for tuberculosis detection. Before these technologies can be fully utilised in South Africa, some regulatory and other issues will first have to be sorted out. Catherine Tomlinson reports.

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In-depth: Getting Gauteng’s HIV and TB response back on track

In-depth: Getting Gauteng’s HIV and TB response back on track

From March to July this year, the Gauteng Department of Health recorded 57 848 TB tests – a decrease of about 30 000 tests compared to the same period last year. The province performed better with HIV testing, although the HIV response has faltered in other areas. Melissa Javan makes sense of the province’s numbers and speaks to activists and community health workers about the impact of lockdown on their services and plans to get things back on track.  

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Eastern Cape government mum on TB plans and numbers

Eastern Cape government mum on TB plans and numbers

Numbers from the National Institute of Communicable Disease and from some provinces show that TB diagnoses have dropped dramatically in 2020 – likely due to COVID-19 and the related lockdown. The Eastern Cape Department of Health has however declined to share information on the TB situation in the province and their catch-up plans. Some activists are concerned about the situation. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.

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Treatment time can be cut by a third for most kids with TB

Treatment time can be cut by a third for most kids with TB

Tuberculosis treatment can be shortened from six to four months in 80% of children, according to findings from a landmark study. Amy green reports.

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TB catch-up plan underway in WC but old challenges linger

TB catch-up plan underway in WC but old challenges linger

In 2019 around 360 000 people in South Africa fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) and about 58 000 people died due to the disease, according to a World Health Organization Report released last week. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these already alarming numbers, with some TB patients stopping treatment during lockdown. Siyabonga Kamnqa looks at the plans the Western Cape Health Department has in place to get its TB programme back on track and finds old challenges still remain.

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TB treatment time cut by a third

TB treatment time cut by a third

A new four-month treatment course for drug-sensitive tuberculosis (the most common form of TB by far) is as safe and effective as the current six-month treatment course that has been in use since the 1980s, according to findings from a large new study. Amy Green reports.

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