New strategic plan will help regain mission in the fight against TB: Minister Phaahla

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Minister of Health Doctor Joe Phaahla says government is working on a new Tuberculosis (TB) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) national strategic plan, in an effort to reach its goal of eradicating TB by 2030. Addressing delegates during the closing ceremony of the 7th SA TB Conference in Durban, Phaahla admitted that TB did take a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statistics show that during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 alone, the country recorded 328 000 new TB infections. It is said that of this, about 60 percent of patients also have HIV. Phaahla says the new strategic plan will help the country to regain its mission in the fight against TB infections.

“It is a critical process, it’s a critical document we are developing. It is the last one, we are working towards our achievement of the agenda 2030 that is to eliminate TB as our public health threat.  So the NSP that we are working on will be launched at the World TB 2023 [Conference], will be the plan that will take us to 2030,” says the minister.

7th SA TB Conference | Discussion on tuberculosis in children: Dr Karen du Preez

Meanwhile, Phaahla says there are a number of TB treatment trials that are in the pipeline and are looking promising. He has urged the healthcare sector to continue using the long-standing  Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine on children.

“Trials which are being made in terms of treatment regimens which are promising to really take us forward to reducing period of treatment including the MDR TB. Hopefully in the not so long future the vaccine will be there. The BCG is still there and it must still be used”.

VIDEO | The 7th SA TB conference in Durban: