films that make a difference
In the Southern African nation of Swaziland, around a quarter of all adults are now HIV positive. With so many now living with compromised immune systems, tuberculosis, which had been in decline for decades, has made a dramatic comeback. Now it has a foothold once more, new mutations are evolving fast, meaning the disease threatens the lives of the healthy as well as those with HIV.
There are over 8 million new infections every year worldwide, but Swaziland is the epicentre of the disease, with the highest rate of TB infection in the world. With the infection spreading with a cough or sneeze, international travel means these lethal new infections are already starting to appear in Europe – last year alone 3,500 Londoners were diagnosed with the disease.
Multi-BAFTA winning film-maker, Jezza Neumann travelled to Swaziland to make this very intimate account of the crippling effects of MDR-TB. We witness victims from two families battle with the disease over the course of a year.
Deep in rural Swaziland near the border of South Africa lives Bheki, a builder who is fanatical about football, who recently learnt that both he and his sister have Multi Drug Resistant TB. As time passes, his sister’s condition deteriorates and Bheki starts to become increasingly anxious about his future.
In the capital, Mbabane, lives 12 year old Nokubegha, a TB Orphan, who is cared for by her 17 year old brother, Melusi. When Nokubegha is diagnosed with the MDR Strain of the disease she has to be admitted into the National TB hospital so she can receive her daily pills and injections.
A tragic yet heart-warming story about the value of human life, love and family.
To listen to Jezza Neumann talking about the programme and TB click on the following links:
"FRONTLINE’s new documentary, TB Silent Killer, serves as an important and timely reminder that this infectious disease is no relic of the past, but a major 21st century challenge … Public health workers should take passion and motivation from the people who courageously and honestly shared their struggles with this disease in TB Silent Killer.Tuberculosis is a major threat, but also highly preventable if we choose to invest in fighting it. As filmmaker Jezza Neumann reminds us, Nokubheka and others “have taken a huge risk in opening their lives out to us. And at the end of the day, their survival depends on change.” - Kathleen Bachynski - 2x2 Project, Columbia University
"A new documentary film, TB Silent Killer, captures the horrors of the old-fashioned, increasingly ineffective treatment process for patients with drug-resistant TB: months of painful injections and handfuls of expensive pills that must be taken daily for about two years, despite severe side effects including deafness." - Erin Conway-Smith - GlobalPost
"Though it gets relatively little press, TB – which is passed by a mere cough or sneeze – has become the planet's second-leading cause of death by infectious disease. It ranks behind only HIV-AIDS, which contributes to the spread of TB by weakening immune systems. Because drugs are expensive and hard to come by, many victims cannot complete their full course of treatment, and their TB adapts into deadlier, more drug-resistant strains." - Tim Molloy - The Wrap
To learn more about the alarming threat posed by the resurgence of TB, read the Nature Outlook Special Supplement on Tuberculosis here.