Moxafrica in South Africa
South Africa has the highest global rates of drug resistant TB, perhaps the most frightening strains, and the highest rates of HIV-TB co-infection all of which makes for such an immense challenge for pharmaceutical treatment.
It was our goal right from the outset to set something up in the country because of this. At the end of 2010 we were wondering whether we'd ever get there for lack of funds. There's more information on how we set the projects up below.
Initially, in March 2011, we trained seven "carers" (these are local rudimentarily trained health workers who minister in the neighbourhood) in the moxafrica treatment protocol in New Crossroads, a township neighbourhood in Nyanga, Capetown; and we similarly trained six carers in Robertson - a town about a hundred miles north of Capetown. We have compiled a short two minute movie of the two trainings and would love it if you took two minutes to view it on Youtube.
Looking forwards, we planned to revisit at similar intervals in the same way that we did in Kampala - every four months for the course of the year. These pilot studies are still running and are harvesting similar resulst to what we saw in Kampala despite the different environments and cultures.
It's always nice to be able to add a little anecdote to an account such as this, and we have one! On the second day of initial training at Nyanga, we supervised the trainee carers training their first patients in the moxafrica protocol. Apart from teaching the specific mechanics of preparing and applying small cones of moxa safely this also includes interviewing the patient, explaining the treatment and establishing their informed consent to take part in the programme. Our first patient was a wiry elderly lady and we watched while the carer explained the issues in Xhosa ("clicks" and all) - after which she spoke vehemently in reply at which point the carer broke out in laughter. "What did she say?" we asked, a little anxiously.
We got an answer we hardly expected. She had said: "If you don't give me this moxa treatment I am going to arrest you!".
The patient and her carer who she says she'll arrest
if she doesn't get her moxa treatment!