multi drug resistant

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the developing world’s biggest killers, with 9.4 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths each year. Swaziland, also, has one of the highest rates of TB and multi-drug resistant TB worldwide. 80%% of people in Swaziland who contract TB are also HIV-positive.

Tholaleke, 39, has drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) and stated treatment in May 2016 at the Moneni National TB Hospital, supported by MSF in central Swaziland. It was while receiving injections that she suffered from severe leg pains, which affected her ability to walk, that made her thankful that she could receive at-home treatment. However, because she lived alone and did not have anyone to help look after her, she was admitted to Moneni Hospital in November for two months.

For many DR-TB patients like Tholaleke, treatment is a long and grueling 2-year journey, taking multiple tablets and injections in some cases, treatment can last longer if the patient doesn’t respond to treatment. Side-effects include deafness, liver or kidney toxicity, and even psychosis. These effects often force patients to give up their jobs while on treatment. In countries like Swaziland, TB patients are often more likely to succumb to poverty more than the disease itself. 

In hopes of helping patients who have gone deaf, 11 DR-TB patients and 30 MSF staff members recently completed sign language training.

Becoming deaf and not knowing sign language sometimes forces patients to isolate themselves from their families, due to inability to communicate. By empowering them with the skill of sign language, MSF staff in Swaziland hopes to reintegrate them into society.

Full Story: 

Natural clay may defeat hospital infections

Potent antimicrobial activity discovered in a natural clay deposit in British Columbia, Canada, may provide the key to tackling some of the deadliest hospital infections.

First employed by the indigenous Heiltsuk First Nation, Kisameet clay was previously used by Canadian doctors in the 1940s to treat internal and skin ailments including ulcerative colitis, arthritis and burns, before antibiotics rendered the use of clay obsolete.

However, the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant infections has a University of British Columbia research team reexamining the use of Kisameet clay. ‘We clearly need new antimicrobial agents,’ said microbiologist and senior researcher Julian Davies. ‘Very few novel agents have been developed in recent years, and we have increasingly multi-drug resistant strains appearing because of antimicrobial over- and misuse.’

Sixteen bacterial strains of some of the most common hospital-acquired infections were incubated into a diluted suspension of the clay for 24-26 hours, with the clay’s strong antibacterial activity eliminating all 16. Davies remarked that the exact mechanisms are currently unknown due to the clay’s complicated mixture. ‘It would be a dream to find isolates to make a new antibiotic,’ Davies added.

Graduate student Shekooh Behroozian stated, ‘When we started, we thought it was folk medicine. But it turned out to be much more than that.’

Meet 16 year old Sinethemba.

Her mother passed away when she was six months old and she was given to the care of her aunt. Last December, her aunt passed away, as well. She now lives with her grandmother and four other family members in Khayelitsha, Western Cape, South Africa. 

At the funeral of her late aunt, Sinethemba was visibly ill – thin, weak, pale, high temperature, always sleeping. Her health was deteriorating at alarming rates and if she did not leave the Port Elizabeth area (where she lived with her aunt), she would not survive. This was when her grandmother, Vuyisiwa, took her in to care for her. On December 12th, 2015, Sinethemba went through a series of tests and was diagnosed with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). In February 2016, MSF introduced a new treatment drug to her called delamanid: a drug not usually available for TB patients in South Africa.

 After a month on her new drug regimen, she was singing, dancing, and enjoying the improvements of her health. When she went for her last X-ray, doctors found no signs of TB in her chest. Vuyisiwa says, “If people got this drug, they could really control DR-TB. TB is a giant, but not a killer. TB can be cured.”