03 March 2014

On 28 February 2014, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) invited reporters to a workshop exploring South Africa’s progress in the treatment and diagnosis of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). 

According to the WHO’s Global TB Report 2013, the gap between DR-TB diagnosis and treatment in South Africa is widening, as access to the rapid TB and MDR-TB GeneXpert test increases.

In 2012, the Department of Health launched a decentralised approach to treating DR-TB, with the aim to diagnose and treat more patients – eliminating delays between diagnosis and start of treatment, and ultimately cutting down disease transmission. However, the success of the strategy is challenged by lagging implementation in most provinces while DR-TB spreads directly among communities.

Presenters explored various aspects of South Africa’s diagnosis and treatment of DR-TB, as well extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) with a focus on improving the drugs used to treat DR-TB, which are notorious for their toxic side effects.

Dr. Norbert Ndjeka, Director of the Department of Health’s DR-TB, TB & HIV division presented the latest epidemiological figures on DR-TB in South Africa (including provincial data), and outlined the successes and challenges in the health department’s roll-out of its DR-TB decentralisation policy, using the district of Umzinyathi in KwaZulu-Natal as an example of effective decentralised care.

Listen to podcast 

Dr Francesca Conradie, President of the HIV Clinicians Society and Clinical Advisor at Sizwe Hospital, gave a progress update on the implementation of a clinical access programme providing a promising new DR-TB drug, bedaquiline, launched in 2013 by the Department of Health. 

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Dr Gilles van Cutsem, MSF Medical Coordinator for SA & Lesotho, outlined the latest findings of MSF’s pilot project in Khayelitsha which proves the effectiveness of a decentralised DR-TB approach, and outlined current efforts to access new DR-TB drugs, including linezolid and bedaquiline.

Listen to podcast 


For further information, please contact:

Kate Ribet, Media Liaison Officer, MSF SA
[email protected] | 079 872 2950

Find out more about MSF's work in South Africa.