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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Eastern Cape government mum on TB plans and numbers

Eastern Cape government mum on TB plans and numbers

Numbers from the National Institute of Communicable Disease and from some provinces show that TB diagnoses have dropped dramatically in 2020 – likely due to COVID-19 and the related lockdown. The Eastern Cape Department of Health has however declined to share information on the TB situation in the province and their catch-up plans. Some activists are concerned about the situation. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.

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Treatment time can be cut by a third for most kids with TB

Treatment time can be cut by a third for most kids with TB

Tuberculosis treatment can be shortened from six to four months in 80% of children, according to findings from a landmark study. Amy green reports.

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TB treatment time cut by a third

TB treatment time cut by a third

A new four-month treatment course for drug-sensitive tuberculosis (the most common form of TB by far) is as safe and effective as the current six-month treatment course that has been in use since the 1980s, according to findings from a large new study. Amy Green reports.

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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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IN-DEPTH: The slow motion race for a TB vaccine

IN-DEPTH: The slow motion race for a TB vaccine

In recent months, the world has seen unprecedented investment in new vaccines. Yet, while a COVID-19 vaccine proven to be safe and effective may be less than a year away, a new tuberculosis vaccine might only be ready to be rolled out in a decade, despite a massive head start over COVID-19. Amy Green takes a closer look at the race for a new vaccine for the world’s top infectious disease killer.

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WHO estimates 20% more TB cases in SA than previously thought

WHO estimates 20% more TB cases in SA than previously thought

Around 20% more people are falling ill with tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa, than previously thought. This emerged from new estimates contained in the 2020 WHO World TB Report launched today.

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COVID-19: The fascinating science of what happens in the lungs

COVID-19: The fascinating science of what happens in the lungs

People with COVID-19 and people with tuberculosis (TB) can experience similar symptoms such as coughing and breathing difficulties as both diseases affect the lungs. Exactly how these diseases affect the lungs, however, differs. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to a leading South African pulmonologist to learn more.

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Some TB patients still required to take pills in front of witnesses

Some TB patients still required to take pills in front of witnesses

Some tuberculosis patients in South Africa are still required to take their pills in front of a healthcare worker or family member. Is this a justified means of ensuring people take their medicine, or is it an invasion of personal autonomy? Elri Voigt asked local TB experts.

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Opinion: Release of SA’s first National TB Prevalence Survey should not be delayed any longer

Opinion: Release of SA’s first National TB Prevalence Survey should not be delayed any longer

Even though it has been ready for months, findings of a critically important tuberculosis survey have not been made public. Every day that passes, the more outdated the findings become, and accordingly the less useful.

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Drop in DR-TB detection points to “crisis” in SA’s TB response

Drop in DR-TB detection points to “crisis” in SA’s TB response

A leading TB doctor says that “it is no exaggeration to say there is a TB crisis in the country”, and that “the impact of this crisis could be even more devastating than COVID-19”. Kathryn Cleary explores the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on South Africa’s TB response and the way forward.

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