TB patients urged to continue taking their daily medication

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The National Department of Health’s Chief Director for TB Control and Management, Professor Norbert Ndjeka says it remains a challenge to get patients to continue taking their daily tuberculosis medication.

Ndjeka was speaking at a symposium in Sandton, Johannesburg, ahead of World TB Day on Sunday.

Professor Ndjeka elaborates, “One of the challenges we have is that a lot of our people who start treatment do not finish treatment. So there is a high loss to follow up that probably contributes to this. But we know that half of our people who have TB also live with HIV so the burden is really big.”

Tuberculosis remains a global health challenge and resulted in an estimated 1.3 million deaths since 2002.

South Africa is a global hotspot, being one of the 30 highest TB burden countries. The country has also been and remains the World Leader in the introduction of new tools to test and treat TB.

Professor Ndjeka says, “We have rolled out shorter regimens or treatment with better drugs for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis, otherwise known as DR-TB, with the notable launch of the BPAL-L programme in September 2023, that has almost 2 000 patients on a six-month DR-TB regimen.”

A 21-year-old TB survivor, Sinalo Tunywashe says the support of healthcare workers made it easier for him to take his medication on a daily basis.

Tunywashe has encouraged patients to take their medication on time.

“So six months is not a lot compared to what I would have taken before the drug that was introduced in September because it was gonna be nine months since I was diagnosed with MDR, so it was actually a benefit for me. Don’t think about it a lot, take the pills each and everyday.”

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