The City of Cape Town is well prepared to contain an outbreak of the Extreme Drug Resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). City Health Director, Dr Ivan Toms, says the City has made major strides in its fight against TB over the past three months.
"During the last quarter, City Health has reached a 79% cure rate - the best ever achieved. We have also reduced the number of people who stop taking their medicine," says Dr Toms.
As requested by the City's Health Portfolio Committee, Dr Toms provided the assurance that the City's clinics together with the Provincial Health department were prepared for a possible XDR-TB outbreak.
Committee Chair, Cllr James Vos, says that according to the Western Cape Health Department 37 people have been diagnosed with XDR-TB. "To date five deaths in the province can be attributed to XDR-TB," says Cllr Vos.
According to Dr Toms the national health department has responded to the XDR-TB crisis with a great deal of technical support from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Latest statistics for the country are 437 XDR-TB cases (295 in KwaZulu Natal) with 290 patients having died.
"The short term goal is to review all TB cases in order to identify drug resistance and XDR-TB cases. A total of 37 have been identified. The next important action is to isolate the XDR-TB patients," he says.
A special XDR-TB ward was commissioned at the Brooklyn Chest Hospital with 22 beds. All of these are now full and more bed space is required. In the medium term, the most important issue is to improve the normal TB control programme.
"Apart from City Health's excellent progress in reducing the defaulter rate and increasing the cure rate, we have implemented steps to reduce the health risk of TB as well as XDR-TB.
"These include clinic designs to separate waiting areas for TB clients, ensuring good air flow in TB areas, and the provision of masks to coughing TB patients, and respirators for all staff in the TB area," Dr Toms says.
12 JUNE 2007
CITY OF CAPE TOWN
TEL: 021 400-2201
CLLR JAMES VOS
CHAIR: HEALTH PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
TEL: 021 590-1680
CELL: 083 640 7640
DR IVAN TOMS
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: CITY HEALTH
TEL: 021 400-2100
CELL: 084 220 0143