The Citizen (02.18.2014)
The Citizen reported that South Africa plans to combat TB with an aggressive plan to target risk groups most susceptible to the disease. South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the new initiative and said that his department would screen all prisoners, mineworkers, and communities located close to mines.
“We want to put up programs to deal with TB once and for all, and we want to adopt the same strategy that we used over the past five years to turn the country around in terms of HIV and AIDS,” he told reporters in Cape Town.
The labor force in South Africa’s mines includes people from the neighboring countries of Lesotho, Swaziland, and Mozambique, which is why Motsoaledi believes regional cooperation is a must for the success of the campaign. Motsoaledi will speak at a regional TB conference in May, where he hopes to acquire the needed regional support. His plan will unveil a common database that would allow for each country’s health departments to follow patients, even when they cross country borders. The initiative also will include the importance of common treatment protocols and common referral patterns.
According to Motsoaledi, 80 percent of South Africans with HIV die from TB complications, which is why both diseases are a priority. Motsoaledi's critics have accused his department of focusing only on HIV, while neglecting other national health problems. He defended his department’s HIV priorities by stating that the disease “has changed life as we used to know it in the country” and increases incidence of other deadly diseases, particularly TB.