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Cape Town residents march against TB

The group said government could do more to help TB sufferers in poverty-stricken areas.

FILE: Around 300 people marched down Keizergracht Street wearing medical masks and chanting “TB is an emergency”. Picture: Graeme Raubenheimer/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Hundreds of people gathered in Cape Town on Tuesday to embark on a march to Parliament in a bid to create awareness around World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.

The group said while they appreciated all the medical care they received to date, government could do more to help TB sufferers in poverty-stricken areas.

The group marched down Keizergracht Street wearing medical masks and chanting " TB is an emergency".

Many were bussed into the CBD from local townships including Khayelitsha and Mfuleni.

The group, under the leadership of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) marched to Parliament with a memorandum to ask government to provide the most effective medication to patients fighting the disease.

The TAC's Anele Yawa insisted there were still too many people losing their lives to a disease that is treatable.

"There is no clear TB screening programme in our country."

Several events were also being held across the country to create awareness around TB.

One Mfuleni resident said there was a great need for improved TB treatment in poorer Cape Town communities.

Isaac Mbadu joined around 300 people in the city, saying poor people had the right to receive the most effective medication.

"It's a problem... Mfula is a relatively new area so we don't have big facilities like they do in Khayelitsha. They have quite a few hospitals, and we only have one and it's just not big enough."

Meanwhile, as Tuesday marked World TB Day, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi led South Africa's biggest screening drive in areas where the disease was most prevalent.

Motsoaledi visited TB screening sites in Orkney in the North West, which is known for its mining activities.

TB is most prevalent in South African mining areas and correctional facilities.

This is why, Motsoaledi said, the screenings would be taking place in Klerksdorp, the Free State, Rustenburg, Northern Limpopo and Carletonville on Gauteng's West Rand.

Motsoaledi said mineworkers and residents living in areas near mines had to be tested.

"Everybody living in this district, our aim is that they be tested. If possible, at least 90 percent of South Africans must at one stage or another knows their TB status.