KZN Health MEC's challenge to fellow MPLs: "Use your influence to help fight TB and COVID-19

05 JUNE 2021

KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has challenged Members of the Provincial Legislature to use their public standing and influence by becoming ambassadors in the fight against Tuberculosis (TB), which is still killing millions of people globally.

According to the World Health Organisation, people who are ill from both TB and COVID-19 may have poorer treatment outcomes, especially if TB treatment is interrupted.

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has the highest burden of TB and HIV in the country. Although the province's TB notification rate has declined from 1128 per 100 000 population in 2009 to 410 per 100 000 population in 2019, this is still more than two-fold what WHO declares a crisis (200 per 100 000) and too high, given that TB is preventable and curable.

Speaking yesterday, on the KZN Department of Health's newly-branded interactive multimedia programme Health Chat, MEC Simelane reflected on a report that she tabled before MPLs earlier this week-an occasion that could mark a turning point in the province's fight against TB.

"The intention of that report to the Legislature was so that we get buy-in from civil society, and... from the legislators. We were requesting them to become ambassadors of TB in the different constituencies that they are serving.

"We have requested them to work together with _Operation Sukuma Sakhe_ War Rooms in all the become proper ambassadors, so we can run campaigns together."

The MEC said the Province would be stepping up efforts to bring back to care those who are no longer taking their TB and HIV medication.

"One of our biggest worries are those people that we lose in the system, when it comes to TB and HIV treatment in particular...who start taking their treatment, but then we lose them for a number of reasons. Some are unable to continue because they don’t have access to food. Others are unable to continue with the treatment because they say they have side-effects...We call on those who are experiencing negative side effects to come to our facilities - not just drop off from the TB programme, so that we are able to work with them.

"Defaulting from treatment is problematic because it can lead to increased TB transmission; as well as an increased risk of drug resistance; TB relapse, and death."

The MEC also used the occasion to thank all healthcare workers and strategic partners who have made the province's COVID-19 vaccination programme a success.

As of Thursday, the Province had vaccinated 123 020 healthcare workers, with only 43103 outstanding.

So far, no fewer than 225 035 senior citizens aged 60 and above, from a targeted 955 000, have received the COVID-19 vaccine from the 97 vaccination sites that have been set up around the province. The number of sites will be increased as more doses become available.

ENDS Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 07 June, 2021

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