South Africa's health department guarantees to start by next week the distribution of a drug to help fight an extremely virulent strain of tuberculosis.
South Africa is being affected by an extremely virulent strain of tuberculosis, which has already taken its toll on 52 people in the country. The health officials have now promised that they would make available a drug by as early as next week to help fight the disease. The officials but also cautioned the public that there was no guarantee though that the drug would save lives, as they fear that it could prove itself to be ineffective in fighting the new super bug that threatens to worsen South Africa's HIV/AIDS crisis.
Charity Bhengu, a departmental spokeswoman said, "We don't have many drugs for TB to choose from simply because no major new inventions have been made for the past few decades." It has been reported that the health department taking advice from experts in the field of medicine have signed a deal with the local pharmaceutical company Aspen to buy Capreomycin and are also negotiating with a second supplier for securing Para Amino Salicylic Acid.
The health officials have explained that XDR-TB (extremely drug resistant) is a strain of tuberculosis, which is resistant to at least two primary drugs and three or more of second line drugs. According to Bhengu, "Wherever (the strain) is identified they will have access to the drugs. It's not a matter of whether we can afford it or not. The money is there." She further said that the price tag would be known only after the provincial governments decide on the amount required to stock hospitals and clinics.
Dr. Tony Moll, who had detected the disease at King George Hospital in Durban, has asked for the two extra medications so as to have a more complete strategy to control the outbreak. Stating that the first priority should be a nationwide tally of cases, he said, "I think number one is to do a surveillance across the country and find out how big the problem is".
TB is an airborne illness that is spread through coughing and sneezing, and is particularly lethal in patients with a HIV who also have a weakened immune system. Reports indicate that the AIDS virus that causes affects nearly one in nine South Africans making it one of the highest caseloads in the world.
Reports released by the health official's state that in South Africa's eastern KwaZulu-Natal region 53 people have been diagnosed with the highly virulent strain of TB and 52 of them have died and all of them were HIV positive.