TB remains the leading reported cause of death in South Africa with over 33 063 deaths in 2015 according to Stats SA. Based on the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data from in 2016, the rate of new cases of active TB in South Africa remains extremely high at around 438 000. While total TB rates do appear to be slowly declining (down from 250 000 in 2015), multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extreme drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) rates are increasing. The WHO estimated 19 000 cases in South Africa in 2016 up from 7 350 in 2007. TB can be spread through the air when people with active TB disease cough or sneeze. However, various infection control measures can be taken to reduce the risk of TB transmission.
TAC branches engaged in our second annual TB infection control audit in March 2018 to assess the state of TB infection control in 207 facilities. The results were very concerning with 145 out of 207 clinics found to be in a “RED” state with very poor infection control measures in place. You can access the full survey here. We have the knowledge and the tools to stop the spread of TB, but we aren’t using them. TB and drug resistant TB remain an emergency in South Africa. It is essential that the government in its entirety commits to addressing this crisis and ensures that all our public spaces are at low risk of TB transmission.