An X-ray of lungs infected with TB. About 270 people in the country die of the disease daily. Picture: Reuters
An X-ray of lungs infected with TB. About 270 people in the country die of the disease daily. Picture: Reuters

TB infection control 'poor' in SA's clinics, says TAC

By Yolisa Tswanya Time of article published Mar 22, 2018

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Cape Town - This year, tuberculosis (TB) infection control must be made a priority.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) made the call ahead of World TB Day on Saturday. It assessed the state of TB infection control in a number of clinics across South Africa.

Of the 207 facilities assessed, 145 were found to be in a “red” state, said the TAC, with very poor infection control measures in place. The organisation based its findings on the answers to seven questions and facilities were ranked red, orange or green.

“In the Western Cape, of the 27 facilities assessed in March, 19 were found to be in a red state with very poor infection control measures in place. Eight were found to be in an orange state. Not one facility was found to be in a green state, with good TB infection control measures.”

The TAC's national chairperson, Sibongile Tshabalala, said clinics should be places of safety, and patients receive decent health-care services.

“They certainly should not be places we can get TB. The reality is that many clinics aren’t even doing the basics to prevent us getting TB as we wait to see a nurse. They are overcrowded. People are not screened for TB. Often staff don’t even offer a tissue to someone coughing,” Tshabalala said.

Around 4.2 million people were screened for TB in the Western Cape and 45 000 cases were diagnosed with TB and started on treatment.

“If the government is serious about tackling TB, then infection control must be made a priority this year. We do not want to be raising the same issues this time next year,” Tshabalala said.

The provincial health department’s spokesperson Marika Champion said TB infection prevention and control were earmarked as an area for improvement.

“Although our facilities tend to be full, patient flow is designed with infection control in mind, given limited existing infrastructure. Better provision is made when building new infrastructure, giving more emphasis to ventilation of spaces and patient flow by design.”

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