The terrible reality is South Africa has one of the highest burdens of Tuberculosis (TB) in the world with the World Health Organisation reporting that about 1% of the 50 million population have active TB each year. But strategic objectives are in place and being monitored to reduce this burden:
Having TB is not a death sentence. Screening, testing and treating can ensure TB is cured and not spread.
Five simple questions is all it takes
At the facilities we run or support we implement the World Health Organisations guidelines for screening for TB with an answer to 5 basic questions we can determine the best approach.
Answering yes to these questions indicates that a visit needs to be made to a local clinic for further tests. We currently screen 93% of patients using this simple method.
The traditional methods are no longer working
To speed up diagnosis of tuberculosis we realised that the smear test (sputum microscopy) which requires samples to be collected in a specially built isolated couching area and sent to a laboratory for culturing was not satisfactory. We needed quicker results and the ability to identify complicated TB like multi-drug resistant TB.
GeneXpert ™ rollout
With a turnaround time of under 2 hours this rapid test can simultaneously identify Mycobacterium TB and resistance to rifampicin (RIF), a common first-line drug for treatment of the disease and a reliable surrogate marker of multidrug-resistance. We spear headed the use of the technology in both the public sector and laboratory services in South Africa. These types of tests are also a common sight within our clinics.
To optimise a common tool used to diagnose TB, we realised we needed to accelerate the process the abnormality identification. Digitising x-rays, storing them in a central database and automating their review with computer aided diagnosis technology and analysed by qualified radiologists increased our capacity. The innovative mobile x-ray trucks programme is reaching geographically disturbs patients within South Africa who would ordinarily not have access to these services.
It is estimated that 60% of people with tuberculosis also have HIV. Over five years ago we realised the importance of educating health care staff and enabling the use INH preventative therapy (IPT). This method of preventive care has shown to have results. In keeping with the national average we screen over three quarters of our HIV positive patients within our care and review there need to for IPT treatment.
We never stop and continue to look for solutions and areas where we can provide assistance. We are concentrating on: