SA gets R500m for TB treatment

Ministers, non-governmental organisations and World Bank representatives are attending the gathering.

FILE: Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: GCIS/SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has called for a medical referral and treatment system for mineworkers who travel across borders in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

He was addressing a meeting of Sadc health and mining ministers on the extent of tuberculosis (TB) in the mining sector.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and World Bank representatives are also attending the gathering in Johannesburg.

It has emerged that 60 percent of Africa's mineworkers come from South Africa and up to 30 percent of these people suffer from the disease, which is more prevalent in mining communities.

Motlanthe says miners in the region need common legislation to help make treatment easier.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who also spoke at the meeting this afternoon, says the global fund to fight TB, Aids and malaria, approved R500 million to conduct a TB screening process for all mineworkers and inmates in the country.

The minister says R500 million allocated to South Africa will be used to conduct verbal consultations with more than 500,000 miners and 150,000 inmates.

Motsoaledi says they will be asked to answer a series of questions about potential symptoms.

He says if respondents answer yes to any of those questions, they will undergo laboratory testing.

"If found to be positive, we start treatment immediately"

But Motsoaledi has not specified a time frame for the tests.

He says reaching the families of miners with TB could take much longer than workers themselves.