Multimedia Policy and Legislation Tuberculosis (TB)

Breathing in Captivity

Written by Anna Maria Lombard

As more and more South Africans get infected with tuberculosis, government programmes that once could be counted on to bring TB under control are no longer adequate.

9a8ef7f3cccf.jpgDiagnostic tools have failed the medical profession as well as patients, taking as long as 8 weeks to confirm whether a patient is infected with TB ‘€“ and another couple of weeks to say if the TB is drug resistant or not.

Just over half of TB patients are cured in South Africa and since 1996 the number of cases has doubled.

TB in the era of HIV. As more South Africans than ever get ever more incurable forms of tuberculosis, Special Assignment examines the epidemic and what may bring relief.

Patients with deadly strains of TB run away from dedicated hospitals, sowing fears of an uncontrollable epidemic. Courts order patients back to hospital, but there are too few beds to accommodate them. Patients are paying the price for inadequate diagnosis and treatment. Scientists are joining in the search for solutions. It’s a battle of wills against rampant, mutant bacteria. Time is running out.

This documentary was broadcast on SABC 3 Special Assignment on 4 March 2008.

About the author

Anna Maria Lombard