Published On: 25 April 2024

By Gcina Nhleko

THINK’s Strategic Partnerships and Community Health Systems Strengthening department recently convened a meeting attended by members representing the leadership of various community groups – Traditional, Religious, Civil Society – and the Department of Health. The meeting’s purpose was to harness community relations and to give a broader outline of the TB Alliance NC-OO9 study and trials imperatives THINK is currently conducting.

NC-009 is a pan-Phase 2 clinical trial incorporating Phase 2a, b, and c elements. NC-009 aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a combination of TBAJ-876, pretomanid, and linezolid for its potential to shorten and improve treatment for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). NC-009 evaluates this combination with different doses of TBAJ-876. Another arm of the trial tests the BPaL regimen against drug-sensitive TB. The study aims to enroll 300 participants with drug-sensitive TB at 21 clinical trial sites in five countries: Georgia, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The first patient was enrolled in October last year.

The THINK Clinical Team is undertaking this study to develop new medication for TB treatment, translating into a reduced TB treatment period from six months to three months. This requires partnership and collaboration with relevant stakeholders, especially the community group, who will assist THINK in mobilising active participants. The study duration is 30 months, and among the criteria for participants’ requirements is that candidates must be newly diagnosed patients between the ages of 18 and 65.

Head of Strategic Partnerships and Community Health Systems Strengthening, Mr Masingita Lambane, facilitated the adoption of the constitution and terms of reference for the advisory board, which will assist in advocating, promoting, and encouraging participation in THINK programs, initiatives, and activities. Ms Andile Bhengu, Community Engagement Officer, smoothly facilitated the elections, which culminated in the following Office Bearers:

  • Chairperson: Reverend Adorn Thango
  • Deputy Chairperson: Ms T Ngubane
  • Secretary: Ms T Mdluli
  • Deputy Secretary: Ms N Gwala
  • Additional Members: H Mkhize, B Malinga, J Sithole and Z Ketsa

Ms Bhengu mapped the way forward for the committee, which, amongst other tasks, included training and orientation of the eThekwini Community Advisory Group, participation in the community meetings, and the nomination of a member to attend the TB Alliance meeting in June – as well as the TB conference in June.

THINK views this partnership as a demonstrable step in fast-tracking initiatives and partnerships to alleviate the tuberculosis burden. TB is a complicated infection to cure, requiring patients to take a combination of medicines for at least four to six months. Even after symptoms disappear, medicines still need to be taken to eradicate all traces of the disease. The scope and intensity of TB globally is, in large part, fuelled by antiquated and inadequate TB drugs. Novel drug regimens are urgently needed to bring the TB pandemic under control, which is why the NC-009 study is crucial.