Saturday, 9 April 2011

Drug resistant TB and Malaria

Sometime in the past week (of chaos), I missed World Health Day. I've been trying to catch up bits and pieces. Probably the best I've seen so far is Alana Shaikh's mild terror at some of the issues being highlighted. Drug resistance is particularly worrying. South Africa is somewhat culpable in this. Anecdotal evidence suggests that we are getting it wrong with XDR TB patients. Not so much mismanaging the situation as simply failing to manage it at all. There are complicated ethical questions about limiting people's freedom of movement because they suffer from a disease, so patients are sent home and local clinics find themselves dealing with drug-resistant TB in the general population. Which then gets swept under the large elephant-in-the-room of HIV. Drug-resistant malaria is equally terrifying. Health in South Africa - as in most of Southern Africa I guess - has plenty of problems, so drug resistance is probably just another item on a long, long list. Which makes it all the more terrifying, really.

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