The campaign aims to mobilize and encourage all Community members in the Cape Metro, and foreign nationals in our Municipality to be screened/tested. It is a Month-long programme; and has support from the Health Department as well as the CaSIPO Project and HPCA. (Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa)
Although the campaign is aimed at all Community members with in the Western Cape, special attention will be paid to Children.
Transmission generally occurs indoors, in dark, poorly ventilated spaces where droplet nuclei stay airborne for a long time.TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with pulmonary TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
The early symptoms are; a cough for more than two weeks which produces phlegm, coughing up of blood, nightsweats, and loss of weight and shortness of breath. These symptoms do not mean you have TB but it would be advisable to have yourself screened for TB if you have them.
In children however the symptoms can sometimes vary and it is therefore very important to effectively screen children and to put any children exposed to TB onto preventative therapy.
In the Cape Town Metro area NGO’s such as Living Hope work in municipal clinics and provide a service where people are screened for TB, given treatment if they have TB and their contacts screened. Arrangements can also be made for those suffering from TB to receive treatment at work or in the community. Social assessments are done and access to social support is provided where TB patients qualify for this.
TB treatment takes from 6 to 8 months but it is important for all TB clients to complete their full course of treatment.
There are 25 000 people in the City’s metro area who have TB; about two-thirds of these people are also living with HIV and Aids.
“The City’s cure rate of 71% is the best in the country for a whole district,” says Dr Ivan Toms, the Executive Director: City Health, “and we are making steady progress toward achieving the overall goal of 85% for new, infectious cases of TB.”
“The Southern sub-district has achieved an 82% cure rate over the past year and the Tygerberg sub-district 81%,” says Toms. The Langa sub-district, despite its particularly high number of cases (750), has attained a 92% cure rate over the last quarter.
TB is completely curable, but only if people complete the full course of treatment. During the intensive phase of treatment, patients take four different medicines five days a week for two to three months; during the continuation phase, they take two medicines five days a week, for four to five months.
It is not surprising that people have found these treatment regimens difficult to follow, which is why the DOTS strategy has proven to be so successful.
People who stop taking their medication, or take it intermittently, are likely to develop multi-drug resistance. This means that not only is their own TB more difficult to cure, but they might pass on this resistant TB to others. Multi-drug TB treatment lasts for 2 years; the first 6 months includes daily injections and thereafter up to 24 tablets per day.
In settings with a high overall incidence of TB, children can account for a large proportion (up to one third) of all TB cases. As a consequence TB is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children in TB epidemic countries.
In the past few months we at Living Hope have become aware of the rapid increase of child TB cases in the areas in which we work.
We have therefore decided to focus our World TB Day campaign around TB in children. TB in children has not been at the forefront of our TB messaging and yet all around us more and more children are being tested TB positive.
We at Living Hope therefore started the campaign by educating all of our own staff on the urgency of following up on child (especially under 5’s) contacts and the consequences of a young child contracting TB, the signs and symptoms and the care of children with TB. Although there is much knowledge about TB within the organisation we desired to get a fresh new approach and develop an urgency around TB in children.
A newly qualified Doctor, who did her final thesis on TB in children, did educational sessions with Living Hope 118 staff and motivated them with the urgency on increasing the case-finding of child TB cases in the community, the management of children with TB and enthusiastically implementing child contact screening and preventative therapy.
Living Hope has planned a month long campaign #ChildTBMustFall and will be delivering presentations at children’s clubs, ECD centres, parents meetings and forums, outreaches at Taxi ranks, door to door campaigns, workplaces and clinics from 17-31 March. Our target is to reach at least 10 000 people during this time with the TB in children focused information.
We will be handing out TB in children informational leaflets, sharing general TB education and sharing the inspirational stories of those who have been cured by TB.
On World TB day, 24 March we will be hosting some special events in partnership with the local clinics in our area. Our main event will be at our site in Vrygrond at 27 Drury Road, starting at 10h00. All are welcome to attend the event where you will be inspired by former TB sufferers and learn more about TB.
NB: If you have been coughing for more than two weeks, visit your local clinic for a free TB test. TB is curable and the sooner you are diagnosed, the better. If you know of a child who has been exposed to someone who has TB please take them to the nearest clinic to be screened? Working together we can reduce TB in the Cape Metro Municipality.