TB 'a public health emergency'

Acting Health Minister Jeff Radebe met with a civil society delegation on Sunday about the often-fatal strain of tuberculosis (TB) emerging within the country.

Acting Health Minister Jeff Radebe met with a civil society delegation on Sunday about the often-fatal strain of tuberculosis (TB) emerging within the country.

The department and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said in a joint statement yesterday that Radebe met the TAC, the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA, the Southern African HIV Clinicians' Society and Doctors Without Borders to discuss the challenge of extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

"Everyone agreed that TB represented a public health emergency that required urgent and sustained and effective action," they said.

The meeting discussed measures to strengthen the national TB control programme.

These included active case findings, efficient diagnosis and tracing of patients, improving the cure rate, reducing the defaulter rate, better management of multidrug-resistant TB and XDR-TB cases, infection control, training for health workers, and education for communities and patients.

A task team comprising national and provincial Health Department officials and representatives of civil society would be established to discuss the issues in detail and make recommendations within weeks.

The parties agreed that there was a need to strengthen communication and partnerships between government and civil society to deal with health challenges. - Sapa

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