A rise in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) is a threat to the country's people and health system, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Friday.
"Research published in the Lancet medical journal in August 2012 suggests that MDR TB is becoming increasingly prevalent in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and parts of Europe," SAIRR researcher Lerato Moloi said.
"MDR TB is 200 times more costly to treat [than TB], and has severe side effects such as deafness and psychosis."
She said most patients who contracted MDR TB defaulted on their medication as it took about two years to treat.
"Defaulting on MDR TB treatment can lead to extensively drug resistant tuberculosis."
TB in South Africa
Moloi said that in 2010, South Africa had a TB incidence rate of 981 per 100 000 people.
The only country with a higher rate was Swaziland, at 1287 per 100 000.
In 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reviewed South Africa’s national TB control programme.
It found that more than 70% of people infected with TB were also HIV positive, in several parts of the country.
In April 2012, the government launched a three-year health plan to treat TB alongside HIV for the first time, with the aim of halving the TB death rate by 2015.
(Sapa, November 2012)
TB drug resistance a worry