Velisha Thompson of the City of Johannesburg writes:
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), which often affects the lungs and this disease is both curable and preventable.
TB is spread from person to person through the air and when people with TB cough, sneeze, or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
Generally, people with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who smoke, have a much higher risk of contracting TB.
Symptoms of TB include coughing, fever, night sweats and weight loss. Some people can mistake these symptoms with flu or stress and do not seek treatment early enough, thereby infecting those around them.
TB is treated with a standard six-month course of four antimicrobial drugs, provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker.
TB can be cured if treatment is taken properly and the course is completed. Teaching children ‘coughing etiquette’ should be a priority and something we should focus on in the month of TB awareness. Many of us cough without considering others around us and could be spreading our germs.
How to cough:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or cough into your upper sleeve of your arm, not your hands.
- Throw away used tissues
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately.
Screening and testing should be intensified so that those who are sick can receive treatment on time and be cured. The TB epidemic in South Africa is still a burden that requires the community to unify and support efforts to combat the illness. The high rate of HIV infection is also worsening as over 50 per cent of HIV patients are also infected with TB.
Challenges we face in our country:
- High defaulter rate due to many of our patients who have nomadic tendencies or patients just don’t take their medication
- Community members give incorrect addresses, which is a big problem
- Poverty, due to high unemployment rates
- Overcrowding as many people live in informal dwellings
- Seeking late treatment from health facilities
The above challenges show that as a community we still have a lot of work to do, to ensure that we provide support to all people.
Have you been cured of TB after diligently taking your medication and finishing your treatment course? WhatsApp us on 079 439 5345 to share your experiences.