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The Department of Health has come under fire for sending home patients who suffer from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) from the Modimolle hospital in Limpopo Province following a strike by health workers over the quality of masks they are provided with.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) on Wednesday condemned this action, saying it may lead to the spread of TB.

The MDR Hospital in Modimolle admitted 35 DMR, XDR and TDR patients following the workers strike. Twenty patients were transferred to various other hospitals, most of which are not equipped to handle DMR cases.

Fifteen others were sent home causing panic among family members. One MDR TB patient said: "I am worried when I'm home. If I cough, other people can get it ..... there are children at home."

Nurses have refused to wear the new protective gear saying the masks do not meet the safety standards. "The problem is the masks. The one that I'm holding now has failed the test four times. We are not prepared to risk our lives," said one striking nurse.

The South African Medical Association has condemned the department's action saying the move will expose many to TB.

However, the Health Department insists measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of people coming into contact with TB patients and says the transfers are only temporary.


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