Clock ticking on SA to end TB: Mabuza

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Deputy President David Mabuza says the clock is ticking and South Africa needs to fight, treat and end Tuberculosis now. The Deputy President was speaking in delivering a keynote address to commemorate World TB Day, in Mbombela in Mpumalanga.

He is leading a delegation that includes Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane and South African National AIDS Council members.

The theme for this year is “The Clock is Ticking,” which conveys the sense that the world is running out of time to act on global leaders’ commitments to end TB.  

The disease remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers, taking the lives of over 4 000 people daily.  

Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 63 million lives since the year 2000. 

‘Public awareness’

Mabuza has called on everyone to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of the disease.

“Today’s commemorations of World TB Day is like no other in the recent past. Almost all nations are engulfed by the anguish and hardships of COVID-19. Today, we are reminded as citizens of the world that we have to act with a sense of urgency in pursuit of TB targets, enhanced equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care. The clock is ticking. Let us treat and let us end TB now.”

Deputy President David Mabuza addresses 2021 World TB Day commemoration:

‘Government has dropped the ball’

Members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in Mpumalanga have handed over a memorandum of grievances to Mabuza at a World TB Day Commemoration event.

TAC feels that government has dropped the ball in its fight against TB. TAC Provincial Secretary, Anele Yawa, has called on government to declare TB a national health emergency.

“We know that TB is a preventable and treatable bacteria that can be beaten. Yet, TB remains the leading cause of death in South Africa, killing 58 000 people in 2019; 36 000 of those people were living with HIV. In last year’s Global TB Report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked South Africa amongst the 20 countries with the highest TB burden in the world.”

TAC hands over memorandum of demands to Deputy President Mabuza:

TB testing 

CEO of the Aurum Institute, Dr Gavin Churchyard, earlier said he’s extremely concerned about a drastic decline in the number of people testing for tuberculosis (TB) because the government has redirected its resources to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

DChurchyard said government should integrate TB and COVID-19 services

The symptoms are similar; they both present respiratory symptoms. We use the same platform to do the test. And so, while we screen people for COVID-19, we also should screen them for TB and then integrate the treatment that will follow up because if people are scared to come to the services, we should go to them and make sure people are being tested and make sure that people with TB are started on treatment. 

– Additional reporting by Eric Lubisi.