25 March 2019

South Africa: TB Patients Still Shunned By Families

analysis

Despite South Africa being the only country in the world to make a new TB drug available to all who have drug-resistant TB, many TB patients are still avoided by their families.

"It felt like my entire family just dumped me in the hospital to die," remembered mother-of-two Nomasonto Lubisi from eMalahleni in Mpumalanga after being diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Shortly after her diagnosis in December 2017, Lubisi was admitted to a provincial hospital and placed on a treatment regimen consisting of a cocktail of potent drugs.

One of these medicines was bedaquiline, the first anti-TB drug developed in almost half a century. This makes Lubisi one of just 28,700 people on the planet with access to the life-saving drug. More than two-thirds of these patients are in South Africa, which is one of a number of reasons the country has received widespread praise for its anti-TB policies.

But Lubisi didn't feel that fortunate:

"My family were scared of getting TB from me and made me live in isolation before I went to hospital. I was in there a year and they didn't visit me, not even once."

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