Antibiotic slashes risk of drug-resistant TB in kids, finds major SA study

Tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy has been transformed in recent years, with treatment duration having been cut from six or more months to just three or one. Progress in developing new treatments to prevent drug-resistant forms of TB has however lagged behind, especially in children. Elri Voigt unpacks findings from a major new TB prevention study presented at the Union World Conference on Lung Health last week and plans for another important preventive therapy trial set to start soon.

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What next after shortened TB treatment fails in key trial?

The current treatment for drug-susceptible tuberculosis (TB) used in South Africa last for six months, effectively cures TB and is dirt cheap. Two studies in recent years have shown that TB can be cured in four or in some cases even two months, but price and other complications make these treatments tricky to implement. At a conference in Seattle last week, a major trial of an alternative four-month treatment reported disappointing findings. Elri Voigt unpacks the latest findings and asks what the prospects now are for shortening TB treatment.

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Smart pill box can help with TB treatment, but it’s not for everyone

Tuberculosis (TB) can be cured, but completing TB treatment can sometimes be difficult. Treatment takes a minimum of six months and some of the medicines have side effects – especially those used to treat drug-resistant forms of TB. Tiyese Jeranji asks what role smart pill boxes could play in helping people complete TB treatment.

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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: 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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Support for some TB patients just a phone call away

With just a tap of a finger, some people with drug-resistant tuberculosis can get in touch with a counsellor to get support over the phone. Tiyese Jeranji looks at a telephone support project that has helped keep some people with TB connected with their healthcare workers during the most difficult periods of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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CSOs want disability grants reinstated

The South African Social Security Agency’s decision to suspend temporary disability grants in December left over 210 000 beneficiaries without an income – including some DR TB patients who rely on this grant to stay on treatment. Elri Voigt investigates.

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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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