There’s good news for TB patients.

Doctors Without Borders is celebrating after the registration of a much-needed drug-resistant TB medicine called Delamanid, to be used in Mzansi.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has been calling on the department of health to speedily activate existing plans to make Delamanid available in the public health system.

“Despite South Africa having one of the best TB programmes in the world, many patients are still not effectively treated and as many as one in two people with multi-drug resistant TB die because options for treating TB remain limited,” said Dr Laura Trivino-Duran, medical co-ordinator for Doctors Without Borders.

She said Delamanid can be a life-saving drug for many patients.

In 2017, the department launched the Delamanid Clinical Access Programme with the pharmaceutical manufacturer Otsuka to provide selected patients in five locations across the country with access to the drug while processes to register it locally were being considered.

But strict criteria were put in place, preventing those who would have benefited from Delamanid from qualifying for access.

Limitations to the drug and the consequences of this is something Dr Hannetjie Ferreira can attest to.

While working at a TB unit in a state hospital, Dr Ferreira applied to the Delamanid Clinical Access Programme on behalf of a patient who had already spent years on treatment for drug-resistant TB, without success.

Doctors Without Borders donated a six-month course of Delamanid to keep the patient on effective treatment.

On 29 March, the patient was declared fully cured.