The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department will spend more than R220million on multidrug-resistant and extreme drug-resistant TB.
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has claimed 126 lives and extreme drug- resistant (XDR-TB) has killed 184 people in Umzinyathi district, most of them in the poverty-stricken area of Umsinga. Between January and last month, 310 people died from the illness. There are about 95000 TB patients in KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking at the World TB day function in Greytown at the weekend, health MEC Neliswa Nkonyeni said her department was working hard to eradicate TB.
"We are concerned by the number of deaths and number of people being infected with killer tuberculosis, especially in Umsinga. In a population of 93200, there are 691 people on TB treatment."
Nkonyeni said she was concerned that patients were not completing their treatment and, therefore, contacted the killer strains.
"We are worried that 72 people are currently suffering from MDR because they did not complete their treatment. Now we have to spend R24000 on each MDR-TB patient instead of only R400.''
She said her department was spending R84000 on each patient with XDR-TB.
Nkonyeni also opened a 38-bed TB hospital for MDR-TB patients.
Nine patients have already been admitted.