TB: Return of the Plague

TB: Return of the Plague


TB is such a pernicious disease. It’s easily transmitted by a sneeze or a cough, and the treatment lasts for years and has appalling side effects. But if you stop taking it, the likelihood is you’ll develop multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB, or even worse, Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) TB, at which point your chance of survival is virtually nil. But there’s been little change in treatment in the past 40 years – the question why, when this is now the world’s second leading cause of death, lies unspoken at the centre of Jezza Neumann’s heartbreaking but deeply moving film.

In Swaziland – currently the nation with the world’s highest rate of TB infection – we follow the treatment of several MDR-TB sufferers. There’s 12-year-old Nokubhega, who’s facing six months as the only child in a remote but beautifully situated TB hospital, while adult siblings Bheki and Zandeli struggle with the endless regime of dozens of pills and daily injections. Their loyal families (in a country where TB still has a stigma) can do little to ease their burden.


An account of the crippling effects of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, following the victims from two families as they battle with the disease over the course of a year. Plus, a look at how the airborne disease - able to be passed on by a cough or a sneeze - is appearing in London and already a national emergency in Swaziland. Narrated by Hugh Bonneville.