ADDRESS BY Ms CN Majeke MP in the National Assembly
Honourable Speaker and Members
Tuberculosis (TB) represents a threat to both the lives and livelihoods of people in the world and no country can fight it alone. It is a global health threat. In this regard, the Global TB Caucus as well as the 2nd summit, is fully supported as an essential step to foment a truly robust and sustainable global response to this global challenge.
South Africa has a high burden of disease from tuberculosis with a growing number of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB cases, which is partially due to the inadequate or incomplete treatment.
Tuberculosis disproportionately affects the poor and individuals who are already immunocompromised, marginalised, living in rural areas, without adequate access to Directly Observed Therapy Short Course (DOTS) dispensing health facilities, and the poor with inadequate health infrastructure.
Its social impact is enormous due to the prolonged and debilitating nature of the disease, the large incidence of TB cases and the stigma associated with it.
Economically, TB, impact includes loss of income among those who are sick, as well as their caretakers, it devastates individuals and their families, and it decrease gross domestic product (GDP). It is the cause as well as a consequence of poverty.
In acknowledging and welcoming the department’s National Tuberculosis Management Guidelines, 2014 as well as the TB DOTS Strategy Coordination; the following programmatic areas should be high in the execution of the guidelines and strategy:
• The DOTS treatment strategy should be universally implemented and be expanded to cover the most rural areas;
• Increase early diagnosis and treatment of TB to limit it spread;
• Invest in health infrastructure with well-equipped facilities and proper diagnostic tools;
• Strengthen the HIV prevention;
Further, the Global Strategy and Targets for Tuberculosis Prevention, Care and Control (The End TB Strategy) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) should be supported, with its emphasis on:
• Integrated, patient-centered care and prevention;
• Bold policies and supportive systems; and
• Intensified research and innovation.
Other technical interventions that South Africa should consider include.
• Support and create for an enabling environment including social support packages;
• Development of a patient-centred care and treatment approach;
• Identification and elimination of barriers to accessing TB services by those most at risk;
• Engagement of leaders, representatives of key population, and both public and private health providers in encouraging and supporting early and active finding and care to enhance treatment completion.
A vision of a South Africa and world free from TB is ambitious yet achievable.