Balancing tuberculosis therapy and substance abuse


Tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause of illness and death globally, the annual WHO Global TB Report stated that 1·6 million people died from TB in 2022. In South Africa, TB remains the leading cause of death. The focal points of this epidemic are institutions like residential hospital DP Marais, in Cape Town, South Africa, which is the principle setting of Anna Versfeld’s recent book Making uncertainty: tuberculosis, substance use, and pathways to health in South Africa. The lives of the DP Marais patients are messy. Their backstories often share common threads of cramped living conditions, unstable or unsafe work, poor diet, and in the case of women, domestic violence. DP Marais admits these patients through its gates, which are branded by a sign reading ‘TB is curable when you complete your treatment’. However, the histories and futures of the patients within those gates do not reflect the simplicity of this statement. As Versfeld puts it, within the gates of DP Marais, “care efforts […] are framed within biomedicine but respond to social complexities” read more. 


Ashley-Norman, P. (2023). Balancing tuberculosis therapy and substance use. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 0(0).

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