27 March 2014

Africa: Sandoz TB Scooter Program Increases Early Detection and Treatment Compliance

press release

Holzkirchen — Department of Health confirms scooters have helped increase early detection of TB and compliance to treatment regimen The scooters increase the mobility and reach of health care workers supporting the treatment of TB patients South Africa has the second highest estimated TB incidence per capita worldwide

A year ago, Sandoz donated three scooters to the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape to increase the detection of new tuberlulosis (TB) cases and to encourage patients who are already on TB medication to complete the six months course. The Department now confirms the scooters, which assist health workers in visiting people in their homes, have helped increase early detection and compliance.

The program, known as the Scooter Project, is an initiative of Sandoz South Africa and is in line with the South African Government's five-year (2012- 2016) National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) and TB, and supports the provincial plans to revitalize its primary health care program. Sandoz aims to increase the mobility and reach of health care workers supporting the treatment of TB patients, often in rural areas. The program addresses the serious health concerns that TB represents in the country. South Africa has the second highest estimated TB incidence per capita worldwide.

In 2012, an estimated 8.6 million people developed TB and 1.3 million died from the disease [2]. Considering that there is treatment for TB, the number of deaths due to the illness is impermissibly high. TB can be viewed as one of the major health problems in South Africa, especially in the Eastern Cape, as research suggests. The cure rate of 65% remains well below the 85% rate recommended by the WHO [3]. At 41%, the Eastern Cape's cure rate lags even further behind the national average [3]. The scooters donated to the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape help health workers address two major challenges in the fight against TB: early detection of the disease and successful patient adherence to TB treatment.

In the Nelson Mandela Bay Area, health workers are at the forefront of the fight against TB. By improving their mobility, their impact on patients is also increased, contributing to more positive health outcomes.

"I am pleased with the partnership that Sandoz has established with the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape. This initiative is not only a confirmation of our company's commitment towards the eradication of TB, but also makes a contribution to the country's efforts of building a healthier South Africa," said Carnie van der Linde Country Head of Sandoz South Africa.

The increased contact between health workers and patients also helps to address the stigma about the disease and dispel myths, another prominent challenge in the region. According to the WHO's 2013 Global TB Report, an estimated 1.1 million (13%) of the 8.6 million people who developed TB in 2012 were HIV-positive and about 75% of those cases were in the Africa region. Due to the high co-infection of HIV and TB and with the lack of public education, many people avoid or delay going to a clinic under the misconception that a detection of TB inevitably confirms that they are also HIV positive.

The scooter initiative of Sandoz not only provides a workable solution to a problem, but it is also a very visible demonstration of Sandoz's community involvement and an effective private-public partnership to help eradicate TB.

South Africa

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