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.
At the age of 19 Phumeza Tisile contracted multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. For four years she battled the disease, losing her hearing in the process. At one stage, a doctor told her to visit a priest and prepare her soul for death. Recently, Tisile (now 33) made it on to TIME magazine’s 2023 TIME100 Next list, as one of 100 emerging leaders round the world who are “shaping the future and defining the next generation of leadership”. Sue Segar chatted to Tisile about her remarkable journey.
Several of the world’s most important tuberculosis clinical trials of the last two decades were done in part or entirely in South Africa. Tiyese Jeranji chatted to some leading researchers about where the country’s clinical trial capacity comes from and what is needed to maintain and improve it.
Dr Juli Switala (42) has treated children in Nigeria, helped fatally ill patients during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, and delivered babies at a hospital in Afghanistan against a backdrop of upheaval and violence. But nowhere cuts close to her heart quite like Brooklyn Chest – the tuberculosis (TB) hospital on Cape Town’s north-western fringes. Biénne Huisman chatted with Switala about her work in hospitals around the world, the challenges of treating kids with TB, and going for a run to get away from it all.
A new report from the Lancet Commission on Tuberculosis (TB) titled ‘Scientific advances and the end of tuberculosis’ makes several recommendations for how governments should go about fighting the deadly, but curable, disease. Spotlight editor Marcus Low puts the Spotlight on how South Africa’s TB programme is measuring up against the recommendations.
The second United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis is taking place in New York today. Sihle Mahonga Ndawonde argues that better TB data and more transparency are needed in South Africa if we are to get and stay on the road to meeting the ambitious targets set and endorsed at this UN meeting.
Professor Valerie Mizrahi, a world-leading tuberculosis researcher and director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town, is retiring at the end of the year. Biénne Huisman sat down with Mizrahi to talk about her journey in TB research, passing the baton to a new generation of researchers, and how she helped build a research ecosystem that brings together specialists across the basic, clinical, and public health sciences.
On September 22 ministers, heads of state, and other officials from around the world will gather in New York for the second United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB. Yet, a few months ago it was not the governments these officials represent, but two philanthropies that stepped in to ensure arguably the most important TB trial of the decade has the funding needed to proceed. Marcus Low contrasts commitments made at the previous UN High-Level Meeting on TB with recent data on funding for TB research and asks what this tells us about the state of the global response to an age-old killer.
The modernist five-storey Mowbray Maternity Hospital sits on a swathe of Cape Town’s earliest contested colonial farm land, earmarked by Jan Van Riebeeck in 1657. Biénne Huisman visited the hospital to learn about its history and its continuing role in helping mothers and babies in the 21st century.
Tracing the close contacts of people ill with tuberculosis (TB) and offering them TB preventive therapy is part of South Africa’s strategy to fight TB. A recent analysis found that such an approach of tracing household contacts and providing them with TB preventive treatment is cost-effective and would – by 2025 – cut deaths by 35% among household contacts of all ages and people living with HIV. In light of these new findings, Tiyese Jeranji assesses the state of contact tracing in South Africa’s public healthcare system.
While there is limited data on tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa’s schools, a growing body of evidence suggests that there is indeed significant TB transmission taking place in the country’s often over-crowded classrooms. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to several local experts about what we do and do not know about the impact this age-old disease is having on our learners and their households.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the remarkable power of genomics in helping us keep track of new viral variants. Several scientists argue that Africa should continue to invest in genomics to support disease control and public health. Sue Segar asks what this means in practice and why it is considered so critically important.