NGO warns people not to skip treatment

Yvonne Arendse, Afrika Tikkun programme manager, talks to Vukani about the importance of the TB awareness campaign.

Afrika Tikkun says it is concerned about the high tuberculosis (TB) infection rate, as well as sexually-transmitted diseases in the province.

The NGO is now warning patients not to default on their treatment.

To drive home the message, they held an awareness campaign at their Mfuleni offices on Thursday March 16, as part of TB Awareness Month.

The campaign encourages people to frequently visit health care facilities to test for TB and HIV /Aids.

The organisation says 600 are treated for TB at the two local clinics. It called for preventative measures to curb the spread of disease and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

Among other health screenings, the organisation conducted blood pressure and blood sugar tests and HIV testing.

They also taught people about the importance of personal hygiene.

Yvonne Arendse, Afrika Tikkun programmes manager, said TB remained a silent yet vicious disease and a prominent killer.

She said people from the townships, particularly men, were reluctant to take their medication. She said they also feared stigma attached to some of the diseases.

Ms Arendse identified the lack of family support as something that discouraged people from taking their medication.

“The treatment pills are horrible and it is one of the things that we have discovered that makes people default on treatment,” she said.

Ms Arendse said a lot more should be done to fight the spread of TB. She appealed to the community to change their negative perception about the disease. She said it was not a death sentence.

Resident Ayakha Sivumbu said she strongly believed that the lack of knowledge made people prone to the disease.

She said township residents often discriminated against those living with the disease.

“I have been tested.

“ I think this campaign needs to go to the informal settlements and taxi ranks

“I think it also needs to encourage men as well to visit clinics because they are reluctant to do that,” she said.