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African solutions to African problems: reframing science innovation

African solutions to African problems: reframing science innovation

QUARRAISHA ABDOOL KARIM AFRICA is plagued by many epidemics — from tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS to malaria and wild polio — but the continent has also worked for decades to fight these threats. The key to beating these deadly diseases is turning inward to existing expertise and finding locally driven solutions. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has placed public health back in the global spotlight and has also served as a reminder that science is not undertaken in an ivory tower. Science shapes humanity because it takes place among us. COVID-19 has also showcased that no epidemic takes place in isolation. Through…
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HIV control approaches may not work for TB: lessons from South Africa and Zambia

HIV control approaches may not work for TB: lessons from South Africa and Zambia

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is one of the most deadly infectious diseases. Around 9.9 million people around the world fell ill with the disease in 2020 and an estimated 1.5 million people died. The advent of HIV in the 1980s unleashed large increases in TB, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, the number of people diagnosed with TB quadrupled every year. People with HIV are particularly susceptible to falling ill with TB. Author HELEN AYLES, Professor Infectious Diseases and International health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine My colleagues and I were part of a research project called TREATS –…
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First ever national survey shows the extent of South Africa’s TB problem

First ever national survey shows the extent of South Africa’s TB problem

SOUTH Africa’s long-awaited tuberculosis (TB) prevalence survey results were recently released. This is the first national prevalence survey of its kind for TB in South Africa. EMILY B. WONG, Assistant Professor, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) ALISON GRANT, Professor of International Health at LSHTM and Member of Faculty, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) TB prevalence surveys are difficult and expensive to do, and so are not carried out routinely, but have been done in many high burden countries following a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation in 2007. In the absence of prevalence survey data, TB estimates are based on the…
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COVID-19 disruption causing many deaths from TB, AIDS in poorest countries, fund says

COVID-19 disruption causing many deaths from TB, AIDS in poorest countries, fund says

EMMA FARGE HUNDREDS of thousands of people will die of tuberculosis left untreated because of disruption to healthcare systems in poor countries caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a global aid fund said. In a few of the world's poorest countries, excess deaths from AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) could even exceed those from the coronavirus itself, said the head of the Geneva-based aid body, known as the Global Fund. The Fund's annual report for 2020, released on Wednesday, showed that the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis in countries where it operates fell by 19%. A decline of 11% was…
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After battling TB and COVID-19, a South African doctor reaches breaking point

After battling TB and COVID-19, a South African doctor reaches breaking point

KIM HARRISBERG ZOLELWA Sifumba described the daily injection she got to treat tuberculosis as feeling like hot lava being pumped slowly into her body, leaving the young South African doctor with crippling joint pain and incessant nausea. She thought her 18-month fight against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis was a career low-point until - five years on - she fell ill with COVID-19 and acute anxiety while working on the pandemic frontlines with scant protective equipment and support. "I'm tired of almost dying all the time," said Sifumba, 29, who blogs and campaigns on doctors' health issues, speaking from the Durban psychiatric hospital…
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