Gold miners with work-related TB neglected for too long

TB is linked with a deadly silicosis epidemic hidden for decades in rural South Africa. Gold mining firms must make amends, says Jaine Roberts.

Across the rural Eastern Cape province in South Africa, up to half of men admitted to hospital withtuberculosis (TB) are former gold miners. This should not be surprising: the incidence of TB among miners is 2,000 cases per 100,000, four times the national incidence.

But researchers rarely ask about occupation when studying the distribution and determinants of illnesses such as TB — and the result here is a hidden epidemic of silicosis-related TB among former gold miners in South Africa.

TB testing in South Africa rolling out slowly

South Africa will expand its rollout of GeneXpert tuberculosis (TB) testing machines, which can diagnose TB and drug-resistant TB within 90 minutes, but concerns remain about the capacity to back up this commitment with supplies and treatment.

The country is the largest buyer of GeneXpert technology in the world, but the machines have not yet become point-of-care tests and are often deployed at district rather than clinic level. Nonetheless, they have shaved weeks off waiting times for patients because samples no longer have to be transported to and from national referral hospitals kilometres away for diagnosis. 

Sadc has less than 1,000 days to meet millennium goal on TB and HIV

SOUTH Africa and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) have less than 1,000 days to significantly reduce the impact of the tuberculosis (TB) and HIV co-epidemic in the region to meet the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline in 2015.

Sadc health ministers and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) will join a delegation in Mbabane, Swaziland, on Thursday to discuss the co-epidemic as well as its impact on labour in the region’s mining sector.

Organisations at a briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday committed about $860m to fighting the TB epidemic in Sadc.

The Swaziland meeting will also look to put in motion recommendations in the Sadc declaration on TB in the mining sector, signed last year.

Further resistance to TB drugs identified in SA

EXCLUSIVE: Researchers have identified a new strain of tuberculosis in 17 patients in the Eastern Cape which is totally resistant to the all current drug regimens.


Government to tackle TB treatment for inmates

Screening every inmate for TB, treating them upon diagnosis - coupled with improved cell ventilation and an urgent focus on alleviating overcrowding are the cornerstones of government’s plans to tackle this curable disease, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe told a group of Pollsmoor inmates yesterday (SUNDAY).


Arguably South Africa’s most overcrowded prison with an unsurprisingly high TB prevalence, Pollsmoor was yesterday the focus of government’s World TB Day events attended by Motlanthe, health minster Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Correctional Services minster Sbu Ndebele.

Has HIV funding revived lagging health systems?

The HIV/AIDS epidemic arrived in sub-Saharan Africa after decades of neglect had left healthcare systems dangerously weak, barely able to cope with the onslaught of patients. Then the money started pouring in - funding for HIV programmes rose from 5.5 percent of health aid in 1998 to nearly half of it almost 10 years later.

Health to get extra to spend on TB diagnosis and HIV

DESPITE the tight fiscal environment, the health sector will receive additional funding over the medium term to compensate for a drop in US donor support for HIV/AIDS programmes, expand HIV treatment and improve the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB).

Consolidated government health expenditure is set to rise from R138bn in 2013-14 to R148bn in 2014-15 and R157bn in 2015-16.

An extra R800m has been allocated to the baseline for the provision of antiretroviral drugs over the medium-term expenditure framework, with the government planning to put an extra 500,000 people on treatment each year. Currently, about 2-million people receive treatment.

Study aims to close the HIV tap

A massive population-based study launched in the Western Cape and Zambia yesterday is aiming to answer the critical question whether testing large populations for HIV and immediately starting those infected on effective antiretroviral treatment programmes, could close the tap on new infections.


The study, HPTN071 (PopART) will aim to find out whether offering a combination of several HIV prevention methods to a community will better prevent the spread of HIV that the standard individual methods currently on offer.

Deaths likely following Mthatha depot shambles

Scores of state patients living with HIV are in danger of dying after a myriad of problems saw the Mthatha Medical Deport unable to dispense antiretrovirals for a number of weeks.

In a hard hitting report, Emergency Intervention at Mthatha Depot – The hidden cost of inaction, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP), SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), document some of the universal reasons for the crisis that is crippling parts of the South Africa’s public health system.