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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Department of Student Counselling and Health hosted a TB Awareness webinar on 24 March 2021 via MS Teams. The webinar programme was directed by DUT’s Miss Fathima Khan. 

The aim of the webinar, which was attended by many students and staff, was to raise awareness about Tuberculosis since March was TB awareness month. 

Chief Professional Nurse at the Department of Student Counselling and Health, Sister Sooriagandhi Wardthen welcomed everyone and presented an introductory speech on Tuberculosis. “A person with TB can infect up to 10 to 15 others when they are in close contact. If you were diagnosed with TB and stopped taking treatment for whatever reason, you will be classified as a missing case. Each missing case adds to the TB burden and without proper treatment, one can die,” said Sister Wardthen. 

Speaker, Sister Lynette Chetty delivered her presentation explaining more about Tuberculosis of the lungs which is called Pulmonary Tuberculosis (PTB). TB is an airborne disease that spreads from one person to another through tiny droplets of saliva or from a cough. Signs and symptoms of PTB are unexplained weight loss, chronic cough that last from two to three weeks, excessive sweating, especially at night, coughing up blood and unexplained fever,” explained Sister Chetty. 

She further advised that if anyone has one or more of these symptoms, they should see a health professional to exclude the possibility of PTB infection. 

Dr N Shabangu, a qualified Homeopathic practitioner shared her personal experience on the issue of stigma in relation to TB patients. “Stigma is described as a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, in this case which is TB. Nowadays people usually associate TB with HIV and that is not always the case. Others associate TB with poverty, so when you have TB people just assume that you are poor. Lastly, it is associated with alcohol and drugs. In my case, when I was still a DUT student in 2011. One classmate from the residence I was residing at had TB and that is where I contracted it. I started experiencing primary symptoms like sweats at night, dry coughs that lasted for weeks. Most students started distancing themselves from me, it was understandable because they were scared for their lives as well. This affected me badly as I could not focus on my studies but I attended sessions with Student Counselling and that was helpful. It is important to be kind to TB patients as they are going through the most with their treatment as it is.” said Dr Shabangu. 

Dr Ayanda Gwala based her presentation on Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) and Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR TB). “Causes of MDR would be irregular use or when the patient does not complete the course. Some tend to stop taking their medication once they start feeling well and gaining weight which is not right, they ought to continue until they finish their term. XDR TB is another form of TB that is caused by bacteria that are resistant to some of the most effective anti-TB drugs,” said Dr Gwala. 

“In compliance to your medication, it is important to take it as prescribed and for that stipulated period,” she said. 

Pictured: Attendees at the webinar. 

Nikiwe Sukazi 

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