| 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",
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