Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the TB dashboard launched by the Western Cape Government is a ’first-of-its-kind’. File Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the TB dashboard launched by the Western Cape Government is a ’first-of-its-kind’. File Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Western Cape Government launches ‘first-of-its-kind’ TB dashboard

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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CAPE TOWN: On Monday, the Western Cape government launched a public-facing TB dashboard which will assist in monitoring the implementation of the province’s multisectoral TB response plan.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the dashboard was a “first-of-a-kind”.

He said the launch of the dashboard followed his commitment, during his State of the Province address, that the TB epidemic had to be treated with the same seriousness as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I also pledged to use the lessons learnt from our agile Covid-19 response in the fight against TB.

“The provision of up-to-date public data that enables behaviour change and monitors the success of government interventions is a key part of this.

“The TB response plan was formed and approved by the provincial council on Aids and TB which I chair, to address the serious impact that Covid-19 has had on TB-related testing, diagnosis and treatment in the province,” Winde said.

He said the interactive TB dashboard aims to get the province’s TB response back on track, promote transparency and digitise its response.

Winde said TB has long been an epidemic in the province. The dashboard would assist in collating real-time data to respond effectively.

The TB dashboard is modelled on the Covid-19 dashboard and includes data on TB cases, deaths, test, positive tests and drug resistance from 2015 onwards.

The data is aggregated and updated monthly to ensure clinical and laboratory data are representative of the included period.

There are several data elements reported for a selected data range, among them TB tests, positivity percentage, the number of TB cases in the province, TB cases in the previous months and the number of TB-related deaths.

Additional components on the dashboard include geographic breakdown of positive cases, temporal trends in cases, deaths, tests and positive tests, graphs detailing drug resistance and an optional TB screening questionnaire which users can do through a link to a WhatsApp service.

The dashboard shows that between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, 38,846 people have been diagnosed with TB in the Western Cape with 1 578 (4.1%) of these cases being drug resistant.

In August 2021, 3 041 cases of TB were diagnosed. Last year, there were 4 078 TB-related deaths. A total of 186 097 people were tested for TB last year, with 17% testing positive and 42% showing drug resistance.

“I encourage residents to familiarise themselves with TB symptoms to play their part in stopping the spread and getting help from our health department as soon as possible,” Winde said.

Common symptoms of TB include: persistent or unexplained cough, bloody sputum or phlegm, chest pains when coughing or breathing, weight loss or appetite loss, or inadequate growth in children, malaise or fever, and profuse night sweats.

Winde has urged anyone with symptoms to immediately consult a health-care professional.

“People who had close contact, possibly at home, work or school, with somebody who was diagnosed with TB disease, are at increased risk of becoming infected and ill themselves. TB is spread through the air like Covid-19.

“TB disease has, unfortunately, been a source of unfair stigma and discrimination.

“Anybody can become ill with TB, through no fault of their own,” he said.

Winde commended MEC of health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, the provincial health department’s data scientists, as well as PCAT on the launch of the dashboard.

“We are extremely proud of their hard work which will go a long way in helping us to save lives.”

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