Africa’s leading nation on TB and HIV infection.

 Source: http://africasciencenews.org/asns/index.php?option=com
Written by Henry Neondo   

Africa's leading nation on TB and HIV infection, South Africa

has been lauded for its management of TB with a team

of reviewers from WHO's Stop TB Partnership

giving a verdict of 'significant improvement'

compared to what it was in 2005.

This is finding by a joint review of the TB programme by

the World Health Organisation (WHO), development partners and

non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Specifically,

the TB defaulter rate has declined and cure rate has increased.

This emerged during a meeting between

the health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and a delegation of

the Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership including

representatives from WHO, USAID, Foundaton For

Innovative Diagnostics and other stakeholders in Pretoria today.

The Joint TB Review looked at, amongst others,

Directly Observed Treatment (DOTS)

as a strategy of patients - the gold standard

recommended globally for treating TB patients -,

strengthening of the health system, TB HIV collaboration,

drug resistant TB (MDR and XDR) and

Public Private Partnerships and Advocacy,

Communication and Social Mobilisation.

The review included observations of provision of care

in clinics and hospitals, interviews with

TB services managers and health workers.

The Review found amongst others major improvements

on quality and access to TB services resulting

in increased case detection and treatment success,

human resources were found to be sufficient

in some provinces but insufficient in others and

very often not adequately trained

in TB control and

that drugs were generally available and in sufficient quantities.

They recommended that infection control measures

should be improved as this was found to be weak.

The Review also found that HIV testing for TB patients

had increased beyond 90% in many of the visited facilities.

The Review has however called for the management

of TB/HIV co-infected patients at the same facilities

with effective infection control measures.

The Review has also recommended that

NGOs working on HIV should also work on TB.

The Review underscored some serious challenges

including that in spite of progress made

still 1% of the general population

gets sick with TB every year,

very much driven by the HIV epidemic.

Infection control should be strengthened

through the formation of national and

provincial infection committees and

assigning this responsibility to dedicated focal persons.

Concluding the Review report Dr Leopold Blanc of

the WHO STOP TB speaking on behalf of

the Review Team commended

South Africa's progress around TB control

but also raised a number of concerns.

"Despite the areas of concern that are still there,

we are encouraged by the progress made

(by South Africa) in this regard.

Its however vitally important that you look

more closely in the area of aggressively

addressing TB/HIV co-infection and

TB within HIV programes and infection control", said Blanc.

Ms Irene Koek, Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board

also commended South Africa on tremendous progress

in the national TB progress and government's commitment

to addressing serious challenges around TB and HIV.

Commenting on the Review findings, health Minister

expressed his confidence on the ability of

the country's health system to continue

to respond to the TB pandemic even in

the context of HIV and AIDS.

"We are encouraged by the findings of the Review.

Moving forward, we have to strengthen around the areas

that the Review draws our attention to.

We are grateful to the WHO and other partners

for working with us in conducting this Review",

said Motsoaledi.

             J-L K.
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