SA mines gripped in the jaws of TB

SA mines gripped in the jaws of TB

2014-06-20 05:00

Cape Town - For every worker who dies each year as a result of an accident on a South African mine, nine more die of tuberculosis, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.

"There are 41 810 cases of active TB in South African mines every year. It is 8% of the national total, and 1% of the population, very unfortunately," he told MPs at Parliament.

Speaking during a second day of debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address, Motsoaledi said the incidence of TB among the country's mineworkers and their partners and children was the highest of any working population in the world.

"It is the highest incidence of TB in any working population in the world. It affects 500 000 mineworkers, their 230 000 partners, and 700 000 children."

Focus on mining fatalities

Mining unions tended to focus on mining fatalities, which were emotive and provoked much anger.

"If you talk to any [union] leader about some of the hazards in mines that workers are faced with on a daily basis, they will immediately cite mining accidents."

In 2009, there were 167 fatalities that occurred in the mining sector due to mining accidents.

"But, in the same year, there were 24 590 cases of TB, which resulted in 1 598 TB fatalities."

The gold mines were the most affected.

1 143 deaths

"In the gold mining industry in [2009], there were 80 fatalities due to mining accidents. But the TB cases were 17 591 in this sector alone, and [these] led to 1 143 deaths.

"So for every death of a mineworker due to accident, there are nine who die of TB."

Motsoaledi said there were 59 400 orphans "currently in care" as a result of TB-related deaths in the mining sector.

The health minister told the House his department was geared up to tackle the problem.

Having secured half a billion rand in international funding, it had identified six districts - in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Free State - that had "a very high concentration of mining activity".

The districts had a total population of 600 000 people residing in so-called peri-mining communities.

Tapping technology

New technology had been deployed in these districts. This had revolutionised the diagnosis of TB "by reducing the period of the diagnostic process from a week to only two hours".

At the end of last month, the department had also deployed 1 534 "outreach" teams to municipal wards to perform primary health care tasks, including combating TB.

On multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, Motsoaledi said this was a huge problem within Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] countries.

"Around the world, the problem of MDR is huge within Brics. It accounts for 60% of the global problem, and as you know, we are part of Brics."

MDR was having a "huge economic impact" in these countries due to the sheer amount of resources needed to deal with it.

Local MDR facilities

Nine MDR facilities had been established in South Africa, where infected people spent 18 months before they were cured.

Motsoaledi called on MPs to help mobilise communities within their constituencies "for this major task of reclaiming our mining communities from the jaws of TB".

In his address on Tuesday evening, Zuma announced the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to promote the revitalisation of distressed mining communities.

Motsoaledi's is one of the nine ministries serving on the committee.

  • Anthoula Joshua - 2014-06-20 06:18

    So very sad, as it is a preventable and controllable desease. Drug resistant TB needs special meds, which government won't make avaible as it is expensive. If you get it you must live in one of those facilities for up to 18 months. No choice. They are in a horrific state. The drugs have horrific side effects.

      David Coetzee - 2014-06-20 08:23

      Unfortunately government does not make fighting disease a priority. Only priority they have is to get rich fast and stuff the people of SA.

  • Twist Cas - 2014-06-20 07:08

    ooh minister my minister, mopedi minister from limpopo, always talking sense. keep it up ngwana wa kgoshi, u deserve to run this country..

  • molifinyana - 2014-06-20 07:19

    Now were are the comments?

  • Armando Guerra - 2014-06-20 07:19

    mr minister I believe hiv/aids is the main contributor to these stats.

      DerpyHooves - 2014-06-20 08:40

      TB on its own is curable. Aids on its own is (somewhat) controllable. Together it's like throwing fuel on a fire.

  • Johan Van Der Vyver - 2014-06-20 08:10

    Do mineworkers not go for lung x-ray annually anymore?

  • Jenny Anderson - 2014-06-20 08:14

    Are the miners taking their meds the way they suppose to, is anyone monitoring.

      Justin Pretorius - 2014-06-20 08:57

      Hit the nail on the head! Remember that TB hospitals actually let people out on weekends! Some sold their medication and never completed the course and hence we have MDR

  • Betsie Callan Ackerman - 2014-06-20 08:26

    TB, together with pneumonia, a sad side effect of HIV/Aids. I worked in Central Africa and see this on a daily basis. Mining has very little to do with it.

      Betsie Callan Ackerman - 2014-06-20 08:27

      sorry, *work* in Central Africa.

  • nakitalee.denobrega - 2014-06-20 08:30

    Can anyone tell me how TB is caught? What makes it so wide spread?

      Justin Pretorius - 2014-06-20 09:02

      Spread by the sputum of the lungs - coughing is the main contributor. Where you have a high TB incidence you also generally have a high HIV incidence as you do not die from HIV, you die from opportunistic diseases such as TB. MDR is caused by a TB mutation that is drug-resitant to normal TB treatement.

  • Jenny Anderson - 2014-06-20 08:53

    Its spread through close contact with someone who has the condition, all to often people don't know the symptoms and just leave it hoping that the cough will just go away and its a bit of flu. Hope this helps

  • Liz Rudy - 2014-06-20 11:03

    TB is so widespread in South Africa it is estimated that most of the population are carriers, the disease lays dormant until your immune system is compromised and it is able to take hold. It is not a dirty disease, nor is it caused by HIV. I had a very rare form of TB and it took 9 months of 4 grams of antibiotics a day to cure. There is no way of telling where I got it from as it is easily transmittable. You can catch it from taking a taxi with an infected person. Treatment is laughable at best as I twice arrived at the State Clinic, the only place one can get the medications, and the clinic was closed, at 14:00 on a Friday afternoon. The best advice I can give anyone on this forum is this: if you have sudden weight loss, night sweats etc, have yourself tested immediately. TB does not only affect the lungs, it can and has infected hearts, ovaries and the brain.

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