“Health care workers need to go and look for undiagnosed TB patients”

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Professor Keertan Dheda of the University of Cape Town says health care workers need to go and look for undiagnosed tuberculosis (TB) patients. He has spoken about closing the diagnostic gap at the National TB Conference in Durban.

South Africa has set a target of finding at least 160 000 undiagnosed patients in each financial year.

Dheda says one person with undiagnosed TB can infect over 15 people.

“To eliminate TB, we have to stop transmission, you all know that. But 90% of  transmission has already  occurred prior to presentation to health care facilities. So by the time we get our patients coming to the clinics and get the GeneXpert ultra test, they have already infected  15 or 20 other people. So we have to go out and find these missing cases and failing to use active case finding. In contra case finding means that we have to go out and  find the case rather than waiting for people to access health care. Failing to use active case finding to address transmission is a keen to try to mob up  the burden of TB without turning off the tab.”

Meanwhile, a chief director in the national Health Department, David Mametja says another way of finding the missing undiagnosed TB patients is to simple screen every patient visiting a health facility.

“When it comes to optimised TB screening and there is a lot that we can say about that. But we are saying every time there is a person in a clinic or in a hospital that is an opportunity for TB screening. They are there you do not have to do anything else to bring them to that health facility. Every attendee must screened for TB.”