Recent figures released by Statistics South Africa confirm that tuberculosis is still the country’s number one killer, responsible for almost 40 000 mortalities a year.
According to the World Health Organisation’s 2016 Global TB Report, South Africa reported 454 000 new TB cases in 2015, making it the country with sixth-highest prevalence of TB in the world after India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria and Pakistan.
It is against this background that the City has embarked on a massive campaign to create awareness of the health threats of both TB and HIV-Aids.
During the campaign, patients will be screened for the disease at all public clinics across the city. The campaign is expected to reach its climax on Friday March 24 when the City will join the global community to mark the annual World Stop TB Day.
The campaign will continue into April. This year’s drive will place emphasis on “missing patients”. These are patients who were diagnosed with TB and HIV but did not commence or continue with their treatment.
The City’s health practitioners will give special attention to hostel dwellers, residents of informal settlements and other groups such as miners, senior citizens, children and healthcare workers.
The City’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development, Cllr Mpho Phalatse, says people must be aware that TB could be completely cured if patients followed their treatment programme for the prescribed period, depending on the type of infection.
“Testing and treatment for TB and HIV are available for free at all City clinics. We urge communities to encourage families and friends to visit the clinics if they notice the tell-tale TB symptoms. It is equally important to provide ongoing support to TB patients and to assist them to continue with the treatment until they are cured,” said Cllr Phalatse.
TB is an infectious disease that spreads from person to person through the air. It affects mostly lungs but can also have an impact on other parts of the body. Its symptoms include a persistent cough that continues for more than two weeks, a fever that lasts for more than 14 days, unexplained weight loss and drenching night sweats.
Cllr Phalatse has appealed to residents to get tested as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the disease.