Home » General » Relief for Tsholotsho Drug-Resistant TB Patients

Unlike HIV, which is transmitted largely through sexual intercourse, tuberculosis is highly infectious and can pass on from one person to another by just a single cough.

While people living with HIV and Aids could be taken care of from their homes, home-based care approach for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) seems burdensome for those affected particularly in rural settings.

“Imagine walking seven kilometres to and from the clinic everyday for eight months to get an injection. It is no joke and it requires one to be g to finish the whole course,” where the words of Mr Adrian Mabhena, one of the patients who was treated of TB at Pumula Rural District Clinic in Tsholotsho.

“The result of such a scenario is patients defaulting because of the long distances to a health institution,” he added.

He revealed that some people travel as far as 25km to get to the clinic.

Mr Mabhena said TB houses constructed by Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) at Pumula Clinic would go a long way in making treatment of DR-TB effective and efficient for those diagnosed.

MSF Tsholotsho medical team leader Dr David Wachi, the organisation managed to construct two TB homes and was renting a third home for the district.

Dr Wachi said this approach of TB homes was better for rural settings compared to home based care where DR-TB patients were treated from their homes.

Dr Wachi said the disaantage of home visits was that sometimes health workers failed to go into the field owing to inadequate resources including human resources impacting negatively on administration of treatment to the patient.

“In rural settings where people walk long distances to a health facility, TB homes are the answer as patients are treated and managed close to where the services are,” said Dr Wachi.

MSF has been operating for the past 14 years in Tsholotsho district and will soon be winding off its operations soon for Government to takeover the programmes.

MSF Spain head of Mission in Zimbabwe, Mr Victor Garcia Leonor, said they have been working closely with all stakeholders to ensure a smooth handover- takeover.

Mr Leonor noted that although major aances were made in areas of HIV and TB management in the district, challenges still lingered in areas of human resources and access to treatment of DR-TB.

Some of MSF achievements in Tsholotsho in areas of TB since 2000 include construction of laboratories for TB screening, procurement of gene-Xpert machines used to test for TB, training and mentorship of health cadres, medical supplies, human re- sources.

“After Tsholotsho, closure MSF Spain will leave Zimbabwe at the end of the year. Two other sections of MSF (Belgium and Holland) will, however, continue supporting HIV programming in Zimbabwe for the next years to come,” said Mr Leonor.

In Zimbabwe, MSF Spain worked in Gweru, Gokwe and Tsholotsho.

While the other projects were successfully completed, in Beitbridge MSF’s assistance was pre-maturely terminated due to political differences.

DR-TB is a strain of TB that is resistant to TB drugs. Unlike general TB treatment, those diagnosed with DR-TB go through a two-year ordeal of treatment involving swallowing more than 10 000 pills and enduring eight months of daily injections.

These treatments make many people horrendously ill, with side effects that range from nausea and body pain to permanent hearing loss and psychosis.

It costs anything up to US$4 000 to treat a single patient for DR-TB.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, cases of DR-TB are on the increase in the country with more than 300 cases recorded last year.

Government’s Aids and Tuberculosis Unit attributed the increase of cases to better detection of the strain of TB through a new tool known as “gene expert” machine.

Dangers of not managing DR-TB properly include the development of an even complex strain of TB known as Extensive Drug Resistant TB- (XDR-TB), which strains Government resources even more because of its complexity.

Tsholotsho district medical officer Dr Thandiwe Mashunyi said TB was a huge burden in the district.

Although she could not immediately give figures on the actual burden of the disease, Dr Mashunyi said there was need to quarantine people diagnosed with DR-TB from the rest of the public to effectively manage it.

“Because TB is highly contagious and DR-TB is even complex and difficult to treat, there is every reason to quarantine those diagnosed to effectively and efficiently treat it,” said Dr Mushunyi.

Dr Mashunyi said the TB homes approach introduced by MSF were the answer to effective management of DR-TB.

She said the TB houses go a long way in ensuring that patients on DR-TB treatment do not miss a single injection throughout eight months as required.

“Failure to adhere to injections as required could lead to XDR-TB- an even complicated strain of TB,” said Dr Mashunyi.

MSF Tsholotsho medical team leader, Dr David Wachi, the organization managed to construct two TB homes and was renting a third home for the district.

Dr Wachi said this approach of TB homes was better for rural settings compared to home based care where DR-TB patients were treated from their homes.

Dr Wachi said the disaantage of home visits was that sometimes health workers failed to go into the field owing to inadequate resources including human resources impacting negatively on administration of treatment to the patient.

“In rural settings where people walk long distances to a health facility, TB homes are the answer as patients are treated and managed close to where the services are,” said Dr Wachi.

MSF has been operating for the past 14 years in Tsholotsho district and will soon be winding off its operations soon for Government to takeover the programmes.

MSF Spain head of Mission in Zimbabwe, Mr Victor Garcia Leonor, said they have been working closely with all stakeholders to ensure a smooth handover- takeover.

Mr Leonor noted that although major aances were made in areas of HIV and TB management in the district, challenges still lingered in areas of human resources and access to treatment of DR-TB.

Some of MSF achievements in Tsholotsho in areas of TB since 2000 include construction of laboratories for TB screening, procurement of gene – Xpert machines used to test for TB, training and mentorship of health cadres, medical supplies, human resources.

“After Tsholotsho, closure MSF Spain will leave Zimbabwe at the end of the year. Two other sections of MSF (Belgium and Holland) will, however, continue supporting HIV programming in Zimbabwe for the next years to come,” said Mr Leonor.

In Zimbabwe, MSF Spain worked in Gweru, Gokwe and Tsholotsho.

While the other projects were successfully completed, in Beitbridge MSF’s assistance was pre-maturely terminated due to political differences.

Source : The Herald

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