Free State pushing to get TB patients back into care

Free State pushing to get TB patients back into care

As was the case in the rest of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the tuberculosis (TB) response in the Free State. Refilwe Mochoari gathered the available numbers and asked the province’s health department about their plans to get the TB response back on track.

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Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

It wasn’t rocket science when we predicted at the start of 2021 that South Africa’s biggest challenge this year would be to get COVID-19 shots into as many arms as possible. But the way it has played out with multiple setbacks and scrambling problem-solving is not something anyone could have predicted. In fewer than a thousand words, Spotlight editor Marcus Low takes a look back at a tumultuous year in health in South Africa.

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What is government doing to restore TB services?

What is government doing to restore TB services?

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have dealt a severe blow to South Africa’s tuberculosis (TB) response. Tiyese Jeranji asked government about its plans to get TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention services back on track.

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In-depth: What contraceptives are available in SA and which ones are most popular?

In-depth: What contraceptives are available in SA and which ones are most popular?

There are a variety of tools available today to prevent pregnancy including pills, intrauterine devices, subdermal implants, injections, condoms, male and female sterilisation, and emergency contraception. Statistics suggest that people in South Africa do, in principle at least, have access to and are aware of these contraceptive methods, albeit not at the desired levels. Elna Schütz looks at what contraceptive methods are available and makes some surprising discoveries along the way about which ones are most popular.

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In-depth: New licenses could spark manufacture of COVID-19 pills in Africa

In-depth: New licenses could spark manufacture of COVID-19 pills in Africa

Pharmaceutical companies Merck and Pfizer recently announced early results from clinical trials showing that two new antiviral medicines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisation. The Medicines Patent Pool then announced licensing deals with both companies that will allow for generic versions of the two drugs to be produced. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the licenses and asks whether generic versions of these pills might now be made in Africa.

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Interview: Prof Lynette Denny reflects on an extraordinary life of service

Interview: Prof Lynette Denny reflects on an extraordinary life of service

Professor Lynette Denny of the University of Cape Town recently received the Order of the Baobab, the country’s highest accolade for citizen excellence. Bienne Huisman spoke to her about her ground-breaking research in cervical cancer prevention, her own ongoing struggle with cancer, and the enrichment she has found in being of service.

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HPV: What is happening with SA’s other relatively new vaccine programme?

HPV: What is happening with SA’s other relatively new vaccine programme?

In 2014, South Africa launched an HPV vaccination campaign targeting 9-year-old public school learners in Grade 4. It involves delivering two doses of vaccine six months apart. Laura Owings asks how the campaign is going and what recent real-world HPV vaccine effectiveness data from the United Kingdom might mean for South Africa.

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Family focus shows promise for TB prevention

Family focus shows promise for TB prevention

Tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy is highly effective in preventing TB disease and death, yet only a few people have access to it. Tiyese Jeranji reports on how Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Khayelitsha is helping TB patients, as well as their contacts, access preventive therapy in the comfort of their homes as part of a new family-centred TB care initiative.

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Five developments in paediatric tuberculosis

Five developments in paediatric tuberculosis

The screening, diagnosis, and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in children remain far from optimal – and in many respects lags behind what can be done for adults. Elri Voigt rounds up five developments in paediatric TB presented at the 52nd Union World Conference on Lung Health.

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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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Opinion: Quality Tuberculosis care starts with people

Opinion: Quality Tuberculosis care starts with people

The world is seeing tuberculosis (TB) deaths increase for the first time in over a decade. To turn things around and to put an end to TB being a leading infectious disease killer globally, we need to make sure the voices of people affected by TB are at the core of developing person-centered, quality TB care, free from stigma and discrimination, argue a group of TB experts and activists.

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Opinion: WHO numbers underscore urgent need for stronger leadership and ambitious TB recovery plan

Opinion: WHO numbers underscore urgent need for stronger leadership and ambitious TB recovery plan

According to new estimates from the World Health Organization around 61 000 people died of TB in South Africa in 2020, an increase of around 5% over 2019. That works out to over 1 100 TB deaths in the country every week. We urgently need a transparent TB recovery plan and we need both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Joe Phaahla to invest real political capital in the implementation of the plan, the authors argue.

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