According to the 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report, South Africa has more than 880 new TB infections each day. With nearly one-and-a-half million people dying from the disease every year, World TB Day, which takes place on 24 March, aims to build awareness about the global epidemic.
“People with the highest risk for developing TB are those with a weakened immune system – babies, individuals who have chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease, HIV infected individuals and cancer patients,” says Dr Jean Bassett, Executive Director from non-profit organisation Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre.
“TB is a highly contagious disease, but it’s also very treatable,” says Dr Bassett. “Common symptoms of the infection include chest pain, tiredness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.”
Dr Bassett offers some tips on how TB patients can lead a healthy lifestyle and protect others from getting infected:
- Take your medication regularly – you might feel healthy before finishing your course of TB medication, but that does not mean that you are well. If you stop taking your medication, then the drugs prescribed to you will not work and it will become more difficult to cure your infection.
- Practice good cough etiquette – when an infected person coughs, they release the TB bacteria into the air which puts others at risk of infection. If you have a cough you should cough into your elbow to cover your mouth and nose.
- Good ventilation at home – TB is an airborne infection. It is important that infected patients maintain good ventilation at home, this includes opening windows and doors to let fresh air in.
“Poor living conditions and overcrowding increase TB risk,” says Dr Bassett. Hostels, student halls and crowded spaces are high risk areas where the infection can be easily spread. “We encourage those who are unable to avoid these living situations to get tested as soon as possible to ensure that they get access to the necessary treatment.”
Servicing more 8 500 patients every month, Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre provides comprehensive healthcare to the informal settlements of Diepsloot, Kyasands, Msawawa, Lion Park and surrounding areas. Based at 105 William Nicol Drive, Fourways, Johannesburg, the Centre is open from 7.30am to 4pm every weekday. First visits are free.
For more information on the other services they provide, visit their website www.witkoppen.org. Interesting facts and service updates can be found on Facebook (@WitkoppenHealthandWelfareCentre) and Twitter (@Witkoppen105).
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:
021 447 1082 / 073 1199200
On behalf of Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre:
Director: Dr Jean Bassett