Tuberculosis (TB) is a major global health problem and the biggest historical killer of mankind. It has caused almost a billion deaths in the last 2 centuries and killed more people historically that all the wars (ever fought) combined. It is far from eradicated, causes ill-health amongst millions of people each year, and is now the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. In 2017, there were an estimated 10 million TB cases globally: 5.8 million among men, 3.2 million among women, and 1.0 million among children. There were also 1.6 million TB deaths (1.3 million among HIV-uninfected people and 0.3 million among HIV-infected people). The number of TB deaths is unacceptably high given that the disease is curable. TB together with HIV and pneumonia features on the WHO top 10 killer diseases list.
Keertan Dheda is Professor of Respiratory Medicine, and Head of the Division of Pulmonology at the University of Cape Town. His research work focuses on the epidemiology, diagnosis, transmission, and treatment of TB. He is a National Research Foundation A-rated scientist (H index = 63 as at December 2018) and has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers including 4 first or senior author original publications in The Lancet. He has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Scientific Award and the Oppenheimer Award. He serves on the editorial board of several journals including the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, and Lancet Respiratory Diseases amongst others. He holds 5 patents related to new TB control technologies. He serves on several national and international academic and advisory bodies and is the current president of the South African Thoracic Society.
Dr Te Riele (Family Physician at Brooklyn Chest Hospital and Clinical Manager, Metro TB Hospital Complex, University of Cape Town) has extensive experience in managing complex TB cases. His research work highlighted the relationship between radiological disease extent and outcomes in drug resistant TB. He serves on several advisory committees including the South African DR-TB Guideline committee.
Dr Suzette Oelofse is a research medical officer and deputy head of the Clinical Trials Unit at the Centre for Lung Infection and Immunity (UCT Lung Institute). She obtained her MBChB (Cum Laude) from the University of Pretoria and has been with the Lung Institute under the mentorship of Prof Keertan Dheda and Dr Ali Esmail since 2016. She has a passion for research and has embarked on a PhD in the field of drug resistant TB. Her goal is to conduct research that will have a meaningful impact on global guidelines and the lives of patients in South Africa and around the world.
When Khilona is not busy in the entrepreneurial and healthcare innovation space across Africa, she shares her time contributing to Free of TB. She has a keen interest in improving the time taken to treat TB patients and is determined to find ways to short circuit systems and tools to address this treatable disease. Through Khilona’s leadership, her SME was the recipient of the prestigious NSTF Award that nationally recognises research leading to innovation. Here is an example of a company that is successfully transforming local scientific excellence into global impact. Khilona has a banking background and has carved her global expertise in leading innovative projects from retail banking to business process outsourcing and contact centres. Prior to moving to Cape Town, she was based in London, helping clients across Europe and offshore markets with their strategic, operational, and technological challenges. Khilona brings her strong business and investment experience to the charity. She is a mentor and supports continuous learning within the communities. Her passion is to create solutions that have social impact. She believes in the power of collaboration, and supports projects and businesses that aim to bring a positive impact to the world. Furthermore, she’s an avid enthusiast of alternate modes of learning.