World TB Day: South Africa launches screening campaign

24 March 2015

South Africa will launch a national TB screening and awareness campaign on Tuesday to commemorate World Tuberculosis Day.

The campaign will be launched by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Kanana near Klerksdorp in the North West.

It aims to encourage all South Africans – particularly those in mining communities, inmates in correctional facilities and those in early childhood development centres – to be screened and tested for TB.

Under the theme “Ending South Africa’s TB epidemic: Accelerating our Response in Key Populations”, the campaign aims to raise awareness and knowledge of TB in communities. Childhood TB will also receive special attention.

World TB Day (24 March) marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis – TB bacillus.

At that time, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, killing one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing tuberculosis.

Burden

South Africa has a high burden of TB, with around 1% of the population 55-million developing active TB disease each year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) gives an estimated incidence of 500 000 cases of active TB in 2011.

This is worldwide the third highest incidence of any country after India and China, and the incidence has increased by 400% over the past 15 years.

Out of the 500 000 cases in South Africa, it is estimated by WHO that about 330 000 (66%) people have both HIV and TB infection.

In the past five years, the government has strengthened its strategies for TB control with increased screening and testing, especially through the introduction of rapid diagnostic tests for TB and drug resistant TB.

SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporter