Tiyese Jeranji

South Africa: Positive signs for new TB testing strategy

Under a new TB diagnosis strategy, people considered to be at high risk of TB are offered molecular TB tests, even if they do not have any symptoms. A landmark study in 2020 showed that such a strategy can help diagnose more people more quickly. Now, early indications are that it also works in the real world and South Africa’s lab service says they can cope with the increased demand.

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Are oral swabs the future of TB testing?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year 40% of people who fall ill with tuberculosis (TB) globally are not diagnosed. There is thus an urgent need for faster, safe, and more convenient TB tests. The current gold standard of testing still requires people to cough up sputum, something that some people and children, in particular, struggle with. The coughing up of sputum also poses an infection risk to healthcare workers collecting sputum samples.

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South Africa: Promising early signs from mobile X-ray TB screening pilots

One of the most intriguing findings from South Africa’s first National TB Prevalence Survey was that out of 234 people found to have TB, 58% had abnormal chest X-rays without experiencing any TB symptoms. The short report in which the findings were made public recommended the expanded use of X-ray technology for TB screening.

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South Africa: What is government doing to restore TB services?

The COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa’s TB response early and hard. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on TB, South Africa urgently needs to release the national TB Recovery Plan and the Department of Health should urgently implement steps outlined in the TB Recovery Plan to save lives.

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Bringing it home: Khayelitsha project shows how a focus on family can boost TB prevention

Tuberculosis preventive therapy is highly effective in preventing TB disease and death, yet only a few people have access to it. Tiyese Jeranji reports in Spotlight on how Médecins Sans Frontières in Khayelitsha (Cape Town, South Africa) is helping TB patients and their contacts access preventive therapy in the comfort of their homes as part of a new family-centred care initiative.

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XACT III: A trial asking how to take TB tests to the people

South Africa’s First National TB Prevalence Survey (findings of which were published earlier this year) found that in 2018, the country’s tuberculosis burden was substantially higher than previously thought. 

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400 people in South Africa with highly drug-resistant TB to get new three-drug regimen

Treatment of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (DR-TB) in South Africa has been transformed over the last decade. Most people with DR-TB no longer have to take daily injections and treatment is often completed in nine months, compared to 18 to 24 months in the past. Maybe most importantly, fewer people are dying of DR-TB and fewer people are suffering hearing loss, a common side effect of injections used in the past.

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COVID-19: The fascinating science of what happens in the lungs

People with COVID-19 and people with tuberculosis (TB) can experience similar symptoms such as coughing and breathing difficulties as both diseases affect the lungs. Exactly how these diseases affect the lungs, however, differs.

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