CURE FOR IGNORANCE: MEC Magome Masike explains the symptoms of TB to Yizo Yizo resident Josephine Mokotsane. Picture: ELFAS TORERAI
The two-street Yizo Yizo informal community, on the outskirts of Rustenburg, was on Friday painted red as community development workers and health officials moved from shack to shack, distributing pamphlets and screening residents for TB.
Health MEC Dr Magome Masike was part of the delegation and he used a battery-powered loudspeaker to inform residents that TB was curable.
The campaign started at the busy Rustenburg taxi rank where MEC Masike urged people to go and get tested once they noticed persistent coughing, weight loss, excessive sweating at night, appetite loss and blood in their sputum.
In Yizo Yizo, the MEC visited, among others, traditional doctor David Mathe, and urged him to refer some of his clients to the clinics for TB testing.
“TB statistics in this community are high and we have come here to intensify case finding because the disease spreads fast through contact.
“For instance, at Mathe’s place, he has clients queuing for his services every Friday yet there is not a single window in the room he uses for consultations. We need to win him to our side so that he helps refer some of his patients to clinics,” Masike said.
However, Mathe said most of his clients are mine workers who often complain of inhaling a lot of dust.
“I always give them my traditional medicine but this TB education has opened my eyes. I will try to refer some of them to clinics for tests,” he said.
Mathe conceded that he was not aware that good ventilation could help reduce the risks of contracting TB and promised to open up windows in his two-room shack.
The campaign to stop TB will also be taken to schools where contacts of infected children will be screened and treated where possible.
South Africa has the third-highest TB prevalence in the world and Rustenburg has the most TB cases in North West.
In 2010 alone, more than 2000 mine workers lost employment in South Africa because of the disease.
MEC Masike said rapid development in the mining city is partly the reason why cases are high.
“This is the fastest growing city in Africa and many people come here to look for work.
“Unfortunately, not everyone is healthy and an increased population leads to increased contact cases.
“However, we hope to defeat the scourge. All we need is cooperation from our communities,” he said.