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TB survivors want to use experiences to change how hospitals deal with disease

Sunday is World TB Day created to raise awareness around one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.

MDR TB survivor Doctor Zolelwa Sifumba from East London is one of the activist who is trying to raise awareness on how hospitals and communities treat the disease. Picture: MSF/Supplied

CAPE TOWNB - Two TB survivors say they want to use their experiences to bring about change in how hospitals and communities deal with the disease.

Sunday is World TB Day created to raise awareness around one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.

According to the World Health Organization nearly 4,500 people lose their lives to TB each day.
Doctors Without Borders says TB remains the leading cause of death in South Africa, claiming over 78,000 lives in 2017.

More than a dozen Tuberculosis survivors are working with the organisation as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the illness.

Doctor Zolelwa Sifumba, from East London, is one of them.

Sifumba contracted Multi-Drug Resistant TB in 2012 when she was a med student. After seeing how poor infection control was in some of the hospitals she'd worked in, Sifumba decided to work towards changing this by joining an NGO called TB Proof.

"Day in and day out we're seeing people in hospitals that have TB, but because of the hospitals and the lack of isolation cubicles these people are within the wards with people who don't have TB. So we're getting a situation now where you'll come to the hospital for one illness, get cured and leave the hospital with TB," she said.

Noludwe Mabadlela, who was pregnant when she picked up the disease in 2017, lost her baby. She's now working with Doctors Without Borders, as an activist in Khayelitsha.

"Most people don't have knowledge when it comes to TB. People are associating TB with HIV and people with TB are stigmatised in society. So that is why I stood up as an example that I had TB, I've beaten it, and anyone can get TB."

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