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24 March 2022


Hospersa, a union with more than 70 000 members (predominantly in the health sector), has commemorated World TB Day and called on government to invest more towards eradicating  TB amongst health workers.  Health Workers have been identified as a key population within the fight to END TB.  It is within this context that  Hospersa calls on government to invest more resources towards the fight against TB and the achievement of universal health coverage and the sustainable development goals, more specifically GOAL 3 on ending the TB epidemic by 2030.

On 24 March, the global community unites in commemorating World TB day to raise awareness about the disease and this year’s theme as announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is “Invest to end TB – Save lives”.  The WHO has indicates that on a daily basis, there are close to 28 000 people who contract TB while there are more than 4000 people who lose their lives to this infectious disease.  The Covid-19 pandemic has also affected the fight against TB whereby TB-related deaths increased in 2020 for the first increase in over ten (10) years.

A silver lining is the estimated 66 million lives that have been saved from TB since the year 2000.  This year’s theme calls on the need for investment into more resources to ramp up the fight against this infectious disease and drive the global community towards equitable access to prevention and care in line with achieving universal health coverage.  Hospersa concurs with this theme and has called for more resources to be directed towards addressing the high prevalence of TB in South Africa, especially amongst health workers.

“As a country, we need more resources to be invested towards the fight against TB,” said Hospersa Public Relations Officer Kevin Halama.  “South Africa accounts for 3% of global cases but due to its population size, South Africa is often ranked the highest in terms of incidence rate of TB.  The high prevalence of TB in the country warrants our government to increase its efforts in the fight to eradicate this infectious killer,” added Halama.

“Investments in improving Occupational Health and Safety in the workplace needs to be scaled up,” said Halama.  “Many of our public health care facilities have become TB breeding grounds due to the lack of effective infection control measures.  The Covid-19 pandemic has unveil the poor working conditions which our members have been subjected to where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not adequately provided, over-crowding in wards has been normalised, depleted infrastructure and deep-rooted corruption in the procurement processes continue to be the face of our public health care system,” added Halama.

“Staff shortages in our health sector also hampers our fight against this infectious killer,” argued Halama.  “Our health care profession is losing many qualified professionals due to the fear of high occupational risks.  Many health workers that contract TB, contract Multi Drug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB), and TB outside of the lungs which forces them to leave the service,” said Halama.

“Hospersa demands a dedicated budget for the fight against TB specifically for health workers. ,” said Halama.  “Aside for addressing OHS issues and staff shortages, the budget must be directed towards the routine screening, testing and management of TB amongst health workers.  There is also a desperate plea from workers at the coal face of this epidemic for adequate Provisioning of N95 masks for the prevention of TB.  The training of staff members in infection prevention and control should also be prioritised as an important measure in curbing the spread of TB,” added Halama.

“As we commemorate World TB Day, we should use the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic as a stepping stone for improving our health care.  We should invest in financial and human resources to eradicate TB and achieve universal health coverage,” concluded Halama.



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