Activists urge government to declare TB a national health crisis

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Health campaigners are calling on the government to declare tuberculosis (TB) a national health crisis. As the world marks World Tuberculosis Day, on Sunday, NGOs say the fight to end the deadly infectious disease requires collaboration between government and civil society.

In Gauteng, the day was observed at Evaton in the Sedibeng district, where education and awareness about the deadly virus were promoted. Civil organisations and Health department projects have been set up to screen and spread awareness.

Tuberculosis is the second deadliest infectious agent, claiming the lives of 1.3 million people globally since 2002. This is despite it being a curable disease.

South Africa is a global hotspot, being one of the 30 highest TB-burdened countries in the world.

From shorter medication regimens to advanced technology, the country is constantly innovating to treat TB.

Medical officer for Isibani Development Partners, Dr Ashleigh Dwarika says “We use AI to read X-rays to detect TB.”

Despite the country being a leader in new tools to test and treat TB – it sees a high mortality rate.

Tshabalala says, “We are calling on the government to declare it a national health crisis.”

This year’s theme in South Africa is: Yes, You and I Can END TB!

Dr Dwarika adds, “We need collaboration between government and NGOs”.

Health activists are calling for more TB programmes and initiatives from the government to the community level to continue the fight beyond just this day.