South Africa is making progress in controlling and curing
Tuberculosis (TB), but needs to place more emphasis on the
disease's link with HIV/Aids, the health ministry heard at a
meeting with global experts on Friday.
In a statement released after the meeting, health department
spokesman Fidel Radebe said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was
told that the TB defaulter rate had decreased and the cure rate had
But, Dr Leopold Blanc of the World Health Organisation's (WHO)
Stop TB Campaign said: "It is, however, vitally important that you
look more closely in the area of aggressively addressing TB/HIV
co-infection and TB within HIV programmes and infection control".
Motsoaledi was briefed on a review of the country's TB
programmes in Pretoria on Friday by a delegation of the
Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership, including representatives from
WHO, USAID, Foundation For Innovative Diagnostics (FIND), and other
SA commended on TB efforts
The review found that some facilities were still poorly staffed
and infection control measures needed more work, there were major
improvements on access to TB services like diagnosis and treatment
at all health facilities, drugs were generally available, and HIV
testing for TB patients had increased beyond 90% in many of
the facilities visited.
"The review has, however, called for the management of TB/HIV
co-infected patients at the same facilities with effective
infection control measures," Radebe said.
It was also recommended that NGOs working on HIV should also
work on TB.
However, the review team commended South Africa's progress
around TB control. Radebe said Motsoaledi had expressed his confidence in the
ability of the country's health system to continue to respond to
the TB pandemic even in the context of HIV/Aids.
"We are encouraged by the findings of the review. Moving
forward, we have to strengthen 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," he said. – (Sapa, July 2009)
SA leads TB vaccine hunt