Friday, September 15, 2006

Govt. must take rapid action to fight new TB strain

By Anya van Wyk
15 September 2006


The new strain of TB needs to be controlled to prevent it spreading across South Africa. The government needs to take visible action now as they did not do so after a warning was received last year.

This is according to Umesh Lalloo, of Durban’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine. The Mail and Guardian reports that eighteen months ago the extreme drug resistant (XDR) strain of TB killed 10 people within days. Dr Tony Moll — who discovered the new strain — and his staff members, in KwaZulu-Natal, were alarmed and alerted the province's health officials. He made an appeal for them to investigate the magnitude of the outbreak and establish a better way of detecting it. Dr Moll and his colleagues received little response.

Moll sent a letter to KwaZulu-Natal Health Minister, Peggy Nkonyeni, asking for research to be conducted in conjunction with America’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC). This was not done on before of the government.

Official responses to Moll’s pleas were only made last week with CDC’s and the World Health Organisation (WHO) visit to South Africa. The CDC and WHO said that more money for drug development and laboratories needs to be put forward.

Dr Moll told the Mail and Guardian that about 60 have died within the space of 16 days.

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