Dissecting diagnostics - TB drug resistance in rural South Africa

Researchers based in northern KwaZulu-Natal in rural South Africa are exploring the impact of novel molecular tuberculosis diagnostic system on clinical outcomes for patients with multidrug-resistance TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Typically, TB attacks the lungs and is spread through the air via droplets as a result of coughing and sneezing. Treatment requires the administration of antibiotics over a long period of time, although antibiotic resistance is a growing problem which has led to multidrug-resistance TB infections?

In rural areas of developing countries, TB has been a major public health problem for decades and deficiencies in diagnostics have been critical, contributing to the failure of TB control. The dual burdens of TB and HIV also place enormous strain on already fragile health systems. One such region is the Hlabisa sub-district in northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where a research project is now underway aiming to explore whether positioning a TB diagnostic test at a peripheral level of the rural health system will lead to beneficial outcomes.

Through collaboration with the Southern African Treatment and Resistance Network (SATURN), Lessells is also involved in education and training of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers on issues of TB and HIV drug resistance in southern Africa, both through training workshops and through the provision of educational material. SATuRN uses a case-base learning approach: 'Physicians and nurses in the area see a huge number of TB and HIV cases and we fund that, by using informative cases, they can very easily recognize the clinical scenarios and remember similar cases from their own experience' , Lessells reflects. 'It also means that they are able to put what they have learnt into practice straight away.'

Full text of the three pages article (page 62 to 64) can be downloaded from the link below.

News date: 2012-09-20