November 3, 2015



ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley



The theme of this year’s World TB Day, “Reach the 3 Million: Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone” reflects the reality of a large proportion of tuberculosis patients going undetected each year, resulting in continued mortality, transmission and growing drug resistance.

Clearly greater attention does need to be drawn to the need for a continued global commitment to finding, diagnosing, treating and curing tuberculosis, and accelerating progress toward ending the epidemic by 2035.

New, potent strains of tuberculosis are emerging that are resistant to available antibiotics, posing a major threat. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) we are told, requires a lengthier and more difficult treatment and can be 200 times more expensive than traditional treatment regimens and is a drain on any nation’s health budget.

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis – a severe form of multidrug-resistance – responds to even fewer available medicines. The ACDP hopes that new drugs will succeed in changing TB’s global trajectory, noting that there are some exciting updates in drug development.

Another critical challenge is the deadly combination of HIV and tuberculosis; each fuels the progress of the other in infected patients and is particularly common in South Africa.

Peter Mabulane, Community Services Manager at SANTA (the South African National Tuberculosis Association) is concerned that in South Africa, TB is being neglected and is in the shadow of HIV/AIDS.  SANAC (South African National AIDS Council) has been accused of excluding TB programs while fighting HIV – this is of course highly concerning knowing TB is the number one killer in South Africa.

Unlike HIV there is no direct funding for TB from the Department of Health as TB programmes are incorporated in HIV programs.

Concerns have also been expressed that there is not enough information on TB out in the provinces, people don’t know who to go to for information about it – they operate on old information and do not know the difference between pulmonary TB and any other kind.

Today there is one pill a day for HIV but when it comes to TB and vaccines like BCG, not every clinic even has the vaccine.

We note however that yesterday, Monday 2nd November 2015, it was reported that Cipla Medpro has sealed a deal to supply South Africans with a variety of vaccines, including BCG, which is administered to new born infants to prevent tuberculosis – the only vaccine against TB.

The ACDP calls on government to ensure TB treatment is being prioritized and to directly focus on TB rather than linking it as a secondary issue within other programmes.

Presently South Africa is unlikely to reach the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing TB deaths by 50 percent in 2015.

TB, short for tuberculosis, is an airborne infectious disease that largely affects the lungs but can affect other organs as well. 482 thousand of South Africa’s 50 million people contract TB every year and it is the  leading cause of death in this country.

The first summit of the Global TB Caucus was in October last year following a meeting of parliamentarians from around the world who are committed to fighting TB.  A second Global TB Summit will take place in Cape Town at the end of this month and the target is for representation from each of the G20 countries and the 22 High TB Burden Countries to attend.


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