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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Interview: “Someone had to do it”, says SA TB activist on Time 100 list

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.

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In-depth: SA’s remarkable TB clinical trial capacity

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.

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Interview: “The situation is not going away,” says inspiring TB doctor

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.

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Analysis: How does SA measure up against new TB recommendations?

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.

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Interview: “The only good TB bacillus is a dead one”, says UCT’s Prof Valerie Mizrahi

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.

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Opinion: A UN meeting on TB is at best a means to more important ends

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.

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TB contact tracing helps save lives – this is how it works in SA

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.

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In-depth: How big a problem is TB in SA’s schools?

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.

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