Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green

DURBAN - THE reigning Miss South Africa for 2018 will raise awareness about tuberculosis (TB) during her reign. 

Miss SA 2018, Tamaryn Green revealed for the time that she herself was a TB survivor after being diagnosed in 2015.

She said during that period, she battled to speak out due to the stigma, and this made the process of diagnosis and treatment much harder and more traumatic.

“I made the decision not to tell any of my extended family and friends for fear of being treated differently and being isolated as this often happens with TB patients,” she said.

“My treatment continued until I developed a hepatitis secondary to the medication. This was when it got really bad. I felt ill every day for a month and I deferred my exams and moved back home. My medication was then changed and soon I started feeling better until eventually I was cured. The whole story was more traumatic than I ever allowed myself to admit. It not only affected me but also my immediate family and close friends,” said Green.

Green won the coveted Miss SA title this year, on her sixth-year medicine student at the University of Cape Town. She said the experience with patient-doctor interaction also helped her relate and empathize with those who have been affected.

Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green

Green will run her campaign #breakthestigma in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Department of Health. She hopes her campaign would encourage people suffering from tuberculosis to come out of the shadows.

“My campaign aims at breaking the stigma around tuberculosis and raising awareness around this global issue. It serves as another working step towards a TB-free world,” she said.

“It took me three years to talk about my story. I could have avoided a lot of trauma speaking about it sooner. I am now in the process of dealing with it. I want to encourage people not to be afraid to speak up about their problems and get the help they need. It is the only way we are going to beat TB,” she said.

Statistics South Africa 2016 mortality statistics and Causes of Death report showed that TB remained a leading cause of death in South Africa. TB remained the leading cause of death among the youth in seven provinces - excluding Gauteng and Limpopo.