Wedged between mountain and sea on a breathtaking stretch of Cape Peninsula coast, the township of Masiphumelele is home to 23 000 people on about 40 hectares of land.* Despite its name which means ‘we shall succeed’ in isiXhosa, living conditions here are dire. It is overcrowded, sanitation is not what it should be, and infectious diseases like HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are rife.
According to University of Cape Town Emeritus Professor Robin Wood, TB infections in the community are astronomically high, particularly amongst children and adolescents.
‘So at the moment, here in Masiphumelele,’ says Wood. ‘Kids of about five years old; 20% of them are infected with TB before they go to school. At the time they’re 14, about 50% are infected, and by the time they leave school, 65 to 70% of them are infected.’
These rates, he says, are applicable to other impoverished communities in the Western Cape, and across South Africa.
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