15 March 2019

South Africa: Amakhosi to Help Fight TB Infections

Government's efforts to halt the spread of Tuberculosis will receive a major shot in the arm in the form of support by Amakhosi, TB Ambassadors and Community Health Workers.

These people will be moving around the rural communities tracing those who may be exposed to TB by carrying out screening and testing.

The teams will also be spreading awareness by educating the communities about the symptoms to look out for while also encouraging communities not to stigmatise those infected.

Government hopes that this joint effort will help the country to trace the missing 160 000 people - that infected with TB but not on treatment.

About a quarter of the 160 000 are in KwaZulu-Natal which also has the greatest TB and HIV burden in the country.

TB remains a global public health challenge and South Africa's number one leading cause of natural deaths especially among men, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Friday.

Furthermore, approximately 15-20% of all TB reported cases are children, and it is among the top five underlying causes of death in children under 5 years of age.

Speaking at the launch of the joint TB prevention campaign in Qadi Traditional Council in Inanda, eThekwini the Deputy President said the statistics should not be this high considering that there is a cure available.

"TB is killing thousands of our people. In fact, most people who are HIV positive die from TB. Sixty percent of people with HIV also have TB - because their immune systems are weakened by HIV infection. This should not be."

Amakhosi, have an important role to play in the fight against TB, said Deputy President Mabuza, who is also the Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).

"Amakhosi live among the people. Every leader can show by example that they will not only ask people with TB symptoms to get tested and treated.

"We call on every leader to lead by example. If you have symptoms go and get tested, get treated and tell those in your environment that you have TB, and you are on treatment," the Deputy President said.

The Deputy President called on Amakhosi to use their influence to encourage all men in every part of the country to get circumcised.

Deputy President Mabuza said this is good for the fight against HIV - which is closely linked to TB infections.

Science has demonstrated that medical circumcision helps to halt the HIV epidemic.

"No institution is better placed to help raise awareness, and ensure good health seeking among men, than Amakhosi."

The campaign will be a build-up to the national World TB Day commemoration, which will be held in March in the Eastern Cape.

The World TB Day this year will be commemorated under the theme: 'It's time! for Religious Leaders, Parliamentarians and Legislators to lead the fight to end TB in South Africa'.

South Africa

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