Policy makers, TB programme managers and academic researchers are gathering in a kick off meeting at Africa Health Research Institute for an innovative project looking at how to tackle drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

As a part of a major grant awarded under the Cross Research Council Tackling AMR Initiative, the meeting forms part of the initial discussions for the project reference group, where local Health Department officials and specialists can contribute to the design of the study and to the interventions put in place to combat TB.

South Africa has one of the highest burdens of DR-TB in the world, with more than 20 000 people diagnosed with drug-resistant strains in 2015. Transmission of DR-TB occurs within hospitals and clinics, but it is not known how much exposure in clinics contributes to DR-TB transmission overall.

The study, with experts in TB from many South African and UK institutions including the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Queen Margaret University, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and UCL will take a ‘whole systems’ approach in order to suggest inter-disciplinary solutions. The research will examine how clinic design, climatic conditions and health workers’ practices and risk perceptions may influence how infection prevention and control measure are implemented.

With input from the National Department of Health and the TB programme managers for both KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, the kick-off meeting, taking place on November 2 & 3, will pull together an ongoing project reference group. During this meeting, the researchers and policy makers will discuss the scope of the study, proposed study sites and will set out an action plan for the work.

Top photo: TB experts from local and UK universities and the Department of Health gathered for the initial ‘Umoya Omuhle’ meeting at Africa Health Research Institute in Durban.

*This grant is funded by Economic and Social Research Council in partnership with the Department of Health, and awarded under the GCRF Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: Behaviour Within and Beyond the Healthcare Setting call. Partners include the Africa Health Research Institute, South Africa; the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex; the Universities of Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; and University College London.