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International News

Twin Boost for TB Treatment in Swaziland

April 11, 2011

Swaziland will soon roll out a fast, cheap test to detect drug-resistant TB strains, and it will begin paying community counselors to directly observe drug-resistant TB patients take their medication. A $40 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria will be used to fund the initiatives.

Of the landlocked nation's estimated 11,000 TB patients, 400 have resistant strains. However, the many undiagnosed cases are driving the epidemic.

Currently, just 32 of the country's 182 health care facilities are capable of diagnosing and treating TB. The test for drug-resistant TB costs $58 and takes up to two months to yield results. The long delay hinders care and follow-up, and it facilitates further transmission.

Swaziland is hoping to decentralize TB services with a new multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) test called Gene Xpert, which is approved by the World Health Organization. Yielding results in less than two hours, the Gene Xpert test costs just $16 per patient.

"Before the end of the year, government will have accredited 31 more clinics to diagnose and initiate TB treatment," said Themba Dlamini, national TB coordinator. The new MDR TB test "will also be used at clinics because it doesn't have a lot of bio-safety requirements. It is also very reliable when used correctly."

Community-based counselors who ensure treatment adherence among MDR TB patients will be paid $60 a month. The goal is to have a trained health motivator to support every MDR TB patient, said Dlamini.

"Most patients take their medication in the evening and it's dangerous for us to walk back home," said counselor Albertina Nyatsi, explaining how a stipend will help. "I need money for transport."

Back to other news for April 2011

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
04.06.2011; Mantoe Phakathi

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS Treatment in Swaziland

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