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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In-depth: Landmark moment as AI beats humans in reading X-rays for TB

In-depth: Landmark moment as AI beats humans in reading X-rays for TB

“The results are in: artificial intelligence (AI) outperforms humans at reading chest X-rays for signs of tuberculosis,” proclaimed a recent newsletter of the Stop TB Partnership. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to a variety of experts about the landmark study behind this proclamation and asked what AI-aided X-ray interpretation may mean for countries like South Africa with high TB burdens.

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Opinion: Could community health workers be the answer to reducing Tuberculosis stigma?

Opinion: Could community health workers be the answer to reducing Tuberculosis stigma?

Tuberculosis stigma thrives when TB is spoken about in hushed whispers, or behind closed doors. The truth is anyone who breathes can get TB as it is an airborne disease like COVID-19. We can all reduce the harmful effect of TB stigma in our communities by taking part in activities that break down false and unfair attitudes towards people with TB. Community health workers are leading the way and deserve more support, write authors from TB Proof.

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XACT III: A trial asking how to take TB tests to the people

XACT III: A trial asking how to take TB tests to the people

Roughly two in five people newly ill with TB worldwide are never diagnosed. In South Africa, this amounts to about 120 000 to 160 000 people per year. A large new study called XACT III is testing ways in which more people can be diagnosed and started on TB treatment more quickly. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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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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Opinion: World TB Day – let’s seize this moment to change the status quo

Opinion: World TB Day – let’s seize this moment to change the status quo

Like with SARS-CoV2, we need to rapidly implement and scale-up effective tuberculosis (TB) prevention interventions, while remaining adaptive to prevailing needs across the country. If we choose to pursue this more deliberate approach to TB prevention in South Africa, World TB Day will no longer be an admission of insufficient progress, but a celebration of defeating our long-standing battle with this curable disease, writes Dr Kavindhran Velen and Professor Salome Charalambous.

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New TB testing strategy ups diagnosis in clinics by 17%

New TB testing strategy ups diagnosis in clinics by 17%

Around 360 000 to 390 000 people in South Africa fall ill with tuberculosis (TB) every year. Of these, around 120 000 to 150 000 are never diagnosed. Now a new TB testing strategy has been shown to improve TB detection at clinics by 17%. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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Tens of thousands of people with TB in SA not diagnosed, survey

Tens of thousands of people with TB in SA not diagnosed, survey

Over 150 000 people who had TB in South Africa in 2018 were not diagnosed, according to findings from South Africa’s long-awaited National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey. One reason for this is that an unexpectedly high number of people do not show the typical TB symptoms and are never x-rayed. Amy Green 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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TB in children: Exciting treatment advances, but better tests badly needed

TB in children: Exciting treatment advances, but better tests badly needed

Children shoulder approximately 12% of the global TB burden, and this proportion is likely higher in high TB burden countries. In South Africa, up to 30 000 children develop TB each year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to TB expert, Dr Megan Palmer from Brooklyn Chest Hospital about treatment challenges and how to improve TB detection and treatment outcomes in children.

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What is behind SA’s higher TB numbers?

What is behind SA’s higher TB numbers?

A World Health Organization report published last week showed more people are falling ill with tuberculosis in South Africa than previously thought – but also that the country’s treatment success rate for dangerous drug-resistant forms of the disease have improved. Amy Green asks what’s behind these numbers.

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