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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
The treatment of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis has been transformed over the last decade with treatment becoming more effective, safer, and treatment duration in many cases dropping to under a year. Even so, treatment can still come with serious side effects and for some, it can still last over a year and a half. In a finding that may help further reduce side effects, new research has found that the dosage of a key drug can be lowered without compromising how well it works. Tiyese Jeranji and Marcus Low report.
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused huge setbacks for the fight against TB. Now, provinces are developing TB catch-up plans. The Western Cape Department of Health will soon launch a TB dashboard as part of its “multi-sectorial TB emergency response plan”. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
It is little wonder that some TB vaccine researchers suffer from a rare syndrome that understandably threatens their mental health. Symptoms include frustration, impatience, irritability, seemingly inexplicable rage, and in the least resilient, despair. It’s called VJS or vaccine jealousy syndrome, writes Chris Bateman.
South Africa will delay introducing a new HIV and TB plan until 2024, Deputy President David Mabuza revealed on Wednesday. The plan is delayed to allow the country’s HIV and TB responses to recover from COVID-19-related disruptions. Laura Lopez Gonzalez reports for Spotlight.