Injection-free treatment programme aimed at curing TB

The Northern Cape MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, officially launched the beda­quiline tuberculosis (TB) treatment expansion campaign in Campbell on Friday (03/08).

Campbell was identified, based on statistical data, for an injection-free treatment regimen provided to newly diagnosed drug resistant TB patients.

The data is based on clinical evidence relevant to bedaquiline treatment.

This programme changed from an injectable treatment plan to one applying a tablet that is equally effective for treating TB.

The department started implementing the bedaquiline clinical access programme (BCAP) in 2013, with only two patients enrolled.

This treatment was primarily used for pre-extensively drug resistant (pre-XDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB patients, who had limited treatment options.

In 2015, the province commenced the bedaquiline programme and since its inception, until March 2018, 481 patients across the province were accommodated.

The province will introduce more patients, with the focus on high-burden treatment sites, namely the Dr. Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington and the West End Hospital in Kimberley.

Introduction at the Joe Slovo Community Health Centre in Garies and the Abraham Esau Hospital in Calvinia will soon follow.

According to Lebogang Majaha, the Department of Health’s spokes­person, the Northern Cape currently introduces 28 patients per month to the programme.

A provincial centre has been established for the weekly reporting and monitoring of new cases initiated on the bedaquiline programme.

“Until we have made substantial progress, we cannot be complacent. We have come a long way, but TB is most definitely not curbed and our collective effort is needed to control it,” Makatong said.

TB ambassador Etienne Baatjies, a cured XDR patient from Campbell, has encouraged community members to change their lifestyle and adhere to treatment.

He said he was living proof of success, having been free from TB for the past two years.