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Hello! I'm Buddy the Cat

Our caped crusader strikes again! Buddy the Cat is a hero to children in South Africa.

Children receiving treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis at Sizwe Hospital in Gauteng Province, South Africa, were recently introduced to their new superhero, Buddy.

A group of children admitted at the hospital were in a jovial mood as they came face-to-face with Buddy, a mascot developed by the children along with those from Brooklyn Chest and Brewelsklof Hopitals in the Western Cape. His mission: aiding their treatment journey.

Through its partnership with the Western Cape’s Department of Health, the USAID TB CARE II South Africa conceptualized Buddy to improve patient adherence and treatment outcomes in child TB patients. He is designed to promote understanding of the illness, help children express their worries and assist them in becoming more at ease in the hospital surroundings.

During the unveiling, there was a lot of excitement among the children as Buddy was introduced. The children chanted his name as they saw him, and wore wide smiles on their faces as they hugged, played and had their pictures taken with their new superhero.

The character will be their companion while receiving treatment. Away from their loved ones, the children will find comfort in Buddy as he shares in their difficulties during treatment. Buddy is acquainted with the treatment they will undergo and helps the children to understand what to expect.

On March 22, 2016 the South African National Department of Health (NDOH), in collaboration with partners including the USAID TB CARE II South Africa project, successfully hosted a World TB Day event focused on highlighting successes and recommitting the country’s focus on fighting TB and HIV. The event was held in Marapong, Lephalale in Limpopo province and was attended by thousands of community members.

The South African National Department of Health (NDoH) has set a new target of 90% treatment success rate of all clients initiated on treatment. However, in 2013, the treatment success rate among new patients with drug-sensitive TB in South Africa was 77%, well below the World Health Organization (WHO) target of 85%.

In the Eastern Cape Province, among new smear positive clients, treatment interruption and transfer-outs accounted for 8.5% and 4.8% respectively of negative outcomes. The program would have reached the WHO targets if these clients had been retained in care. Ensuring directly-observed treatment (DOT) and early antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation in HIV-positive TB patients are some of the main strategies adopted by the WHO to ensure high treatment success rate.

The TB CARE II South Africa project has developed a 20 minute documentary that is being used to raise awareness about the effect of TB in children, specifically TB Meningitis. The aim of this video is to educate nursing staff, parents and newly-diagnosed TB patients to understand the symptoms and risks of TB Meningitis, especially in children under age five. The video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcHjesgQI_Y

There is also a brief video on the TB and Meningitis symptoms. This can be seen here: https://youtu.be/MdD6gh3iYog

These videos are made possible by the support of the American People through USAID. The contents of these videos are the sole responsibility of URC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Grantee Spotlight

Since 2009, TB Program South Africa has provided 85 grants to 67 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in all nine provinces in South Africa. The project is currently on its 4th wave of funding, and more grantees are being added all the time.

Many grantees have pioneered innovative models of service delivery and community outreach, such as injection teams for MDR-TB patients and door-to-door TB and HIV screening, which can serve as models for other organizations working to combat TB and TB/HIV throughout the country, particularly among vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations.

To learn more about the TB Program South Africa Small Grants Program, check out the grantee spotlight booklet: here .

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