The informal settlement of Khayelitsha in Cape Town is the latest site of a multi country trial that aims to transform the treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB). The endTB clinic was officially opened by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the City of Cape Town and will test five new drug regimens in Peru, Lesotho, Kazakhstan, Georgia and South Africa.
If the trial proves successful, it will be a major revolution in the treatment of the age-old disease. But it won’t be the first. There have been several over the past 100 years and we’ve come a long way. But the fact that the current treatment can only be administered by injection, and that nearly two thirds of people who are treated go deaf, elegantly explains why we’ve still got a long way to go.
There’s reason for optimism. Over the last 20 years I’ve seen a dramatic change in attitude towards people with drug resistant TB – from the World Health Organisation (WHO) right down to health workers in the smallest clinic. This gives me great hope that we’re on the right track to institutionalising care that has the patient at the very centre.