- Cape Town journalist Vusumuzi Ka Nzapheza reports on
June 21 2007 that the number of patients with extremely-drug resistant
tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has more than quadrupled in the Western Cape over
the past three months. The local TB-hospital 's isolation ward could not
cope with the overflow, and some of these XDR-TB patients were also being
placed "in isolation at prisons in the province", according
Cape Town city health spokeswoman Faiza Steyn.
- My personal comment: The journalist had to use
three-month- old national health department statistics, however, new updates
on the national XDR-TB epidemic have not been released since March by
the National Department of Health. No-one in the news media really knows
exactly how many have actually died countrywide of the XDR-TB epidemic
in SA over the past three months. The Cape town health department in the
country which actually provides up-to-date statistics to the news media
and keeps the public informed.
- The Cape Town journalist reports that the specialised,
22-bed isolation ward of the Brooklyn Chest TB Hospital which is used
by the Cape Town health department, has no more room for new patients.
Cape Town's own local statistics show that since March, 45 new XDR- TB
cases have been officially diagnosed in the province and eight XDR-TB
patients have since died. In March, there were 10 officially- diagnosed
XDR-TB cases in the province, he reports. It takes at least 2 months to
diagnose suspected XDR-TB cases.
- Overflow XDR-TB patients 'in prisons and hospital
- Cape Town's health department spokeswoman Faiza Steyn
told the Cape Times journalist that 'most patients with XDR-TB were admitted
as quickly as possible to Brooklyn (Chest Hospital). "At times,
patients do have to wait for an (isolation) bed at Brooklyn Chest Hospital.
Some patients were treated in side wards at the hospital, while the rest
were in isolation at prisons in the province, she said. Treatment was
provided for everyone who needed it."
- Seperate waiting areas in health clinics for suspected
- City health director Ivan Toms said the department and
clinics had implemented steps to reduce the health risk of TB and XDR-TB.
- "These include clinic designs to separate waiting
areas for TB clients, ensuring good airflow in TB areas, providing masks
to coughing TB patients, and respirators for all staff in the TB area,"
- Cape Town has a 79% cure rate for ordinary TB:
- "Apart from City Health's excellent progress in
reducing the defaulter rate and increasing the cure rate, we have implemented
steps to reduce the health risk of TB as well as XDR-TB," said Toms.
Indeed in the last quarter of last year, Cape Town achieved its best cure
rate of 79 percent for ordinary TB. - the best TB- cure rate on the African
- Karin Weyer, director of the TB Research Unit at South
Africa's (independent) Medical Research Council, warned that the XDR-TB
epidemic 'pointed to the failure of TB control: we have to cure TB first
time round and step up drug resistance surveillance now that XDR-TB has
- http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php? set_id=1&click_id=125&art_id=vn20070621011130371C820336
- Nurse died of XDR-TB, two inmates diagnosed with it
at Pollmoor prison, Cape:
- Meanwhile only one day earlier, the Cape Argus journalist
Norman Joseph reported that his investigation of the 'collapsing health
care system at Pollsmoor prison' had discovered that two months ago,
one prison nurse had died of XDR-TB, and two inmates with XDR- TB were
transferred to TB-hospitals, where one has since died.
- He also reported that the health-care system at this
(crime- syndicate-run) prison has practically collapsed, with its hospital
director expelled from his job for refusing to give patients life- saving
medicines, and only one nurse available each day to treat up to one-thousand
patients during the prison hospital's daily sick-call.
- LINK: http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php? set_id=1&click_id=125&art_id=vn20070618104701176C119063
- Joseph's report did not mention whether any of the more
than 7,000 inmates and 1,250+ staff members (and their families) at this
seriously overcrowded prison near Cape Town have since then been tested
for the killer-TB strain and how many more of the inmates and staff were
sent into quarantined hospitalisation since the nurse's death.
- This maximum security prison is under the direct control
of the Correctional Services ANC-Minister Ngconde Balfour. It was built
in 1964 and holds some of South Africa's most dangerous criminals and
roughest gangsters -- but also trial-awaiting prisoners. The prison is
practically run by crime-syndicate bosses. Gangsterism is a potent feature
of Pollsmoor Prison life, and gangs and their leaders run three segregated
sections each with 500 to 750 gang- members.
- View the BBC-documentary about prison life:
- http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php? set_id=1&click_id=125&art_id=vn20070618104701176C119063
- A particularly virulent strain of extremely-drug-resistant
tuberculosis (XDR-TB) was first identified in South Africa in 2003 and
has since then been identified as the unique "SA-1" mutation
between the TB bacillus and the Human-Immune-Deficiency virus (HIV) which
leads to Aids. This strain has contributed greatly to the present epidemic
all over the country. Hundreds are already dead of still dying, with the
overwhelming number of patients dying within 20 days of contracting this
mutant TB+HIV strain.
- The SA government meanwhile, still has not withdrawn
its official policy advice against the enforced isolation of XDR-TB-patients
who refuse hospitalisation. Cape Town's health department and others
such as the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital in Rietfontein near Johannesburg
are ignoring this unscientific directive. At Sizwe there were at least
168 drug-resistant patients in quarantine including 16 children in April.
It's not known what their present situation is - there have been no news
releases about it since that time.
- See the news clip with DOH deputy director Ms Matsau
explaining this policy:
- With the tourism trade to SA still rising dramatically,
and Cape Town's infamous 'sex-tourism' becoming a multi-million industry
run by those crime syndicates who are headquartered at Pollsmoor Prison,
it's obviously just a matter of time before the first XDR- TB patients
with this unique "SA-1" TB+HIV mutant strain start showing up
in the rest of the world.
- It's untreatable due to its mutation with the HIV-Aids
virus, and moreover an airborne bacillus which is coughed out by infectious
patients in large clouds. (see cartoon below)