Get help for tuberculosis

Lady Michaelis Hospital, in Plumstead, discharged its first patient who was cured of tuberculosis (TB), on Tuesday March 28. The new TB unit was officially opened on World TB Day, Friday March 24.

“In July last year, I started having night sweats and coughing terribly, which are signs of TB. In September, I started coughing blood and went to Lady Michaelis for screening,” said Sandra Horne, who also lost 13kg in a short period of time.

Ms Horne, 57, is the first person to be cured of TB at Lady Michaelis day hospital and discharged from the new unit.

After testing positive for TB, she was put on TB medication for six months. After taking the medication regularly, as prescribed, she felt an immediate positive change in her health.

Her last sputum test was done last month, and the result was negative for TB.

Dr Rose Henry, who specialises in treating people suffering from TB and HIV/Aids at the facility, said the Western Cape had the fourth highest number of new TB infections in South Africa (651.2 cases per 100 000). For 2016/17, the TB treatment success rate was 80.4 percent.

She said Lady Michaelis started an antiretroviral (ARV) clinic at the end of 2009. “And because of the close link between TB and HIV and other chronic diseases like diabetes, it was important to have an integrated service so that patients can get all their medication at the same facility to prevent falling through the cracks or defaulting their medication,” she said.

Sister Amy Eiman, the nurse in charge of the TB unit at Lady Michaelis, said when a patient entered the facility showing TB symptoms they were screened via a sputum test.

“If the results are positive for TB, we put them on TB treatment for six months and follow up with them after they have completed the full course and are cleared of TB,” she said.

Since the integrated service was started in October 2016 there have been about 3 000 patients screened for TB each month.

Lady Michaelis currently treats 23 TB patients, two of whom have multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB). This means they require further medical action to help them recover.

The TB unit has one doctor, a staff nurse, and a professional nurse who relieves the staff nurse, a clinical nurse practitioner who assists with the patients, three TB/HIV counsellors, and community care workers who do home visits to assist with adherence to treatment and recalling of defaulters back to the facility.

Most of their patients are older than 50, and they do not treat children under the age of five unless they are HIV positive or in an emergency.

The TB unit has an open-door policy and no appointment is required for a test. The unit is open day until 4pm from Monday to Friday.