Today is World TB day on which we should reflect on what should be done to combat this scourge in our country, where 15 000 cases of drug-resistant TB are diagnosed each year but only about half are treated.
While Gauteng has achieved a commendable TB cure rate of over 80%, there is a big question surrounding the future of the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital in Sandringham, Johannesburg which is the only specialized TB hospital in Gauteng for treating drug-resistant TB cases.
According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, only 150 out of 266 beds are currently used at this hospital.
According to the MEC: “The number of admissions dropped due to the national decentralization policy where Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients can now be initiated on treatment at decentralized sites near their homes”.
The hospital is short of 8 Professional Nurses, 4 Staff Nurses and 10 Assistant Nurses.
The MEC says that there are no plans to close this hospital in view of the extensive Rietfontein housing and commercial development nearby.
But residents have been told by the Rietfontein developers at one meeting that the Sizwe hospital will be closed.
The Sizwe Hospital is a national monument and has an important role to play in combating TB in Gauteng, as well as treating MDR-TB cases from neighbouring provinces.
The Gauteng a Health Department needs to assure us about the future of this hospital in treating specialised TB cases.
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222