The extent of multi-drug and extreme drug resistant strains of TB in South Africa was not currently known, the World Health Organization (WHO) said recently.
"We know there are quite a lot of MDR and XDR-TB, although we don't know the extent," said Dr Fabio Scano, a tuberculosis expert from the WHO.
Scano was in South Africa as part of a two-year collaboration with the government to provide technical support and advice in the fight against the disease.
A marathon, not a sprint
There was much ignorance in other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries about the extent of the disease, said a health department official.
"There are a lot of interventions underway but we have yet to see the results... the fight against TB is a marathon, not a sprint," he said.
"South Africa so far is the only country (in the SADC region) that has the capacity and the capability to test for XDR-TB," said the deputy director-general in the health department, Nthari Matsau.
Acting Health Minister Jeff Radebe said it was important for TB patients to stick to their treatment.
According to health department figures, 237 of 352 XDR-TB patients identified so far have died. – (Sapa)
Multi-drug resistant TB
Rapid test for resistant TB
For more information on care and support of tuberculosis visit South African National TB Association (SANTA) or phone them on 011 454 0260.