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2008-03-17: City declare war against TB (Tuberculosis)

In spite of all efforts to cure TB patients the numbers of newly diagnosed TB patients are increasing every year. During 2007 the City of Johannesburg diagnosed 17810 new TB patients of which 2085 were children. The TB epidemic is aggravated by HIV infection and the increasing threat of Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). Successful TB Control is heavily dependant on effective treatment of TB patients, requiring adherence throughout the full course of treatment.

In recent years there has been a significant improvement in the number of infective TB patients cured in the City of Johannesburg. In 2002, only 54% (3842 patients) of newly diagnosed patients suffering from TB of the Lungs were cured compared to the 74% (6488 patients) in 2006. The 74% cure rate was achieved by improving the TB Control Programme.  One of the key factors to the successful treatment of TB patients is the fact that TB control has become patient-centered and the treatment of patients is directly observed treatment with the assistance of the Non-governmental Organisations.

The City Of Johannesburg is also regarded as the best performing district in the country in terms of implementation of the National TB Crises Plan. The City renewed its efforts to improve TB services after being selected amongst three other Metropolitan Councils to implement the TB Crises Plan. The strategies employed to improve the TB Services included increasing capacity to diagnose and treat TB, strengthening of laboratory network, improving case management, developing referral systems for referral of patients from hospitals to clinic facilities, ensuring adequate support for patients during their course of treatment, increasing awareness through advocacy and social mobilisation and improving TB and HIV Collaboration.

During March 2008, the City of Johannesburg Health Department is embarking on a TB Awareness Campaign. A series of events have been planned as part of World TB Day commemoration. This year's theme for the TB Campaign is "I am stopping TB, join us to fight TB" The words: "I am stopping TB," says that everyone can take an active role in the prevention and spread of Tuberculosis.

As a build-up towards to the events around World TB day, 24 March 2008, the city has already conducted TB Imbizo's in all seven regions during which community leaders were engaged in the challenges faced by the TB epidemic. Door-to-door health education campaigns were also conducted during the months of October, November and December 2007 and will continue until the end of the campaign in March.

A Shuttle bus to the City's seven regions as part of the awareness campaign, will be visiting a number of taxi ranks, clinics, hostels, informal settlements, shopping malls and other areas within the City of Johannesburg, the aim of the campaign is to make sure that everyone knows about TB and to provide people with critical information on tuberculosis and its treatment.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious problem all over the world. TB causes more deaths in South Africa than any other infectious disease. TB is an infectious disease; it can be passed on from one person to another. TB is spread through the air when someone who has TB cough, spits or sneezes. TB testing and treatment is free at all government clinics. Persons who have been coughing for more than two weeks and is suffering from a loss of weight and night sweats should consider having a free TB test done.

TB is totally curable. Medication is given which must be taken every day of a week, for a period of six to eight months. It is essential for persons to complete a full course of TB treatment to be cured.