Health of female prisoners given priority
Solomons, a paediatric neurologist at Tygerberg Hospital, said while the early symptoms were non-specific and difficult to detect, adequate implementation of the existing integrated management of childhood illness (Imci) guidelines at clinic level, “is extremely useful for the early detection and treatment initiation of TB meningitis”.
In one of the studies performed at Tygerberg Hospital, 70percent of children had potential TB features and recent household TB contact. But Solomons said only one of these patients were correctly identified as a likely TB patient.
He blamed clinics for their failure to detect TB, saying they were not picking up on TB diagnosis early enough – resulting in many of these children getting severe forms of TB such as TB meningitis.
“Children with TB meningitis tend to have three or four contacts with health professionals before they come to me. There are many lost opportunities at the clinic.
“The thing that is often missed in clinics is when children vomit but there is no diarrhoea. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as gastro, but you can’t have gastro with only vomiting with no diarrhoea,” he said.
Solomons said persistent vomiting could be a sign there was raised pressure in the brain – and this should worry caregivers. Sadly, parents were also not recognising the symptoms of TB meningitis such as poor weight gain, persistent coughing of more than two weeks, non-specific symptoms longer than five days, and contact with a TB patient.
Solomons’s research also showed that chest X-rays did not necessarily detect pulmonary TB, and less than half of the TB meningitis patients in his study had a chest X-ray detecting TB.
The most effective scoring categories were cerebrospinal fluid findings, followed by clinical criteria and neuro-imaging findings. AS WOMEN’S Month draws to a close, one non-profit organisation is putting the spotlight on women’s health among Pollsmoor Prison inmates.
Tokai-based Women Taking Action offered free blood glucose screening and pap smears at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre yesterday.
Founder of the organisation, Shirly Paulse, is on mission to raise awareness about cervical cancer, which is the single most prevalent cancer among black South African women.
“We plan to roll this campaign out nationally and have confidence that this will raise awareness of the disease and slowly lift the many myths surrounding paps that prevail in our disadvantaged communities,” Paulse said.
“Cervical cancer has to compete for resources with diseases like HIV/Aids and tuberculosis and does not stand a chance of improving if the private sector does not step up to the plate and stand alongside our government to make the change.”
WTA secretary Stacey Delport said detecting the early warning signs of cervical cancer was of utmost importance – and for that you needed a pap smear.
Women Taking Action’s pap smear campaign began two months ago in Malmesbury, where eight of the 150 women present opted to undergo the free pap smear and glucose testing.
Their second event, in Atlantis last month, was more successful. Of the 300 women who attended the awareness drive, 62 underwent the important pap smear test.
“(It was) a huge increase and possibly the most pap smears ever done at a single screening in the country,” Delport said.
Women Taking Action has partnered with Precedence Zuma, the head of Precedence Laboratories who has donated her time to speaking to women about pap smears and processing the tests.
DANCE OF JOY: Pollsmoor inmates performed during the pap smear campaign for disadvantaged women.
BETTER HEALTH: Female inmates showed how much they enjoyed the afternoon of well-being and festivities.