The Western Cape Health Department will start allowing the self-screening of tuberculosis (TB), after witnessing a dramatic decline in the number of people who have tested for TB during the lockdown.

Premier Alan Winde said that the screening of potential TB patients at home will be implemented because the Western Cape wants to proactively identify patients instead of waiting for them to come to clinics, according to TimesLive.

The TB self-screening will follow the COVID-19 protocol, with TB patients filling out questionnaires on their mobile phones – an algorithm will be used to determine if the patient is at risk based on their responses and will recommend testing if need be.

“As we did with Covid-19, we will also adopt hotspot-focused and behaviour change led approaches to prevent the spread of TB among those at risk,” said Winde.

“The Western Cape government is ramping up the delivery of other health-care services so that people can access the vital care they need, in a way that puts their dignity and wellbeing first. We believe that the lessons we have learnt and the systems we have put in place during Covid-19 will help us to achieve this,” he said.

The premier told TimesLive that over the last seven months there has been a decline in the number of people who visit the province’s healthcare facilities for TB testing and treatment. He also said that the community healthcare workers who have been screening people in their homes for COVID-19 have extended their operations to include TB and other illnesses.

Tuberculosis is statistically the leading cause of death in South Africa.

Tuberculosis claimed the lives of 64 000 South Africans in 2018, according to the World Health Organization’s 2019 Global Tuberculosis Report. A total of 301 000 people were infected with the disease during that period.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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