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Coronavirus – South Africa: North West Health converts XDR TB unit into Coronavirus COVID-19 ICU

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The North West Department of Health has decided to suspend its Extreme Drug Resistance TB Unit (XDR Unit) in Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex after 20 years of existence. The XDR Unit is shut simply because XDR patients have recovered and no new cases have been recorded in 2020. 

A total of 110 XDR TB patients were diagnosed in the Province since the Unit was established in the year 2000, with a definite spike between 2013 and 2017 due to improved diagnostic tests.

Dr Hannetjie Ferreira, a medical officer responsible for the management of TB at the hospital complex says the closure of the XDR Unit is good news for residents as the patients who struggled with the disease for many years have been completely cured and there are no new cases. Only two patients were diagnosed with XDR TB in 2019 and six in 2018.

In 2012 the North West became the first province in the country to successfully cure an XDR TB patient in South Africa. The unit was the first in South Africa to initiate a patient on the new medicine regimen under the Bedaquiline Clinical Access Research Programme in March 2013 and introduced Delamanid in 2016. This led to improved cure rate for XDR TB and subsequent decline in community transmission.

Ms. Pulane Seitsiro from Jourbeton in Klerksdorp is one of the patients who completely recovered from XDR TB. Ms Seitsiro says support from family and health officials saw her completing the treatment of a health condition that was termed impossible to cure by many. She was admitted at the XDR TB Unit in 2013 and left the hospital XDR TB free in 2015.

“I was anxious at first but had to accept the diagnosis and cooperate with the doctors and nurses so that I can be healed and be discharged to go back to my normal life with my family,” she said.

MEC Madoda Sambatha has attributed the success of the XDR TB Unit to centralized expertise at the MDR/XDR TB Unit in Klerksdorp.

“We brought together expertise and mobilised the resources to have a better understanding of how to manage this challenging disease. Once we have harnessed the best knowledge and model, we got confident that we are doing the right thing and results are there for everyone to see,” MEC Sambatha said in light of the new developments.

The unit will now serve as an ICU for COVID-19 patients.

Issued by: North West Health

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.


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