The agreement will be signed on Thursday at the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD) in Braamfontein. Successful claimants will be able to seek compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of earnings. The pilot project aims to increase more access to medical examinations so that the former mineworkers can check whether they qualify for possible compensation. The workers may have contracted occupational lung diseases during exposure to mine dust while employed in the mining industry.
The partnership will assist the department in coping with the workload by establishing more occupational health centres in the public hospitals where ex-mineworkers can undergo benefit medical examinations which are required to process compensation claims. Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is expected to deliver an address to endorse the agreement. NUM President Zenzeni Zokwana, General Secretary Frans Baleni as well as a delegation from the Chamber of Mines and Chair of the Board of the Ex-Mineworkers Project Dr Fazel Randera, will be attending the event. The miners apparently contracted Asbestos Related Diseases (ARD) 20 years ago when they were working on the mines. An ARD occurs in response to inhaling asbestos fibres.
The fibres may cause scarring pleural thickening or asbestosis or cause malignant growth or an asbestos related lung cancer Mesothelioma. Pleural thickening is where scars from on the outer surface of the lungs, often on the ribs while asbestosis is where many miniature scars occur in the spongy parts of the lungs, making them harder and less spongy and eventually making it more difficult to breathe. Asbestos related lung cancer is a cancer which forms in the spongy parts of the lung. It grows bigger very quickly and causes coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain. Mesothelioma is a cancer which starts on the outer surface of the lung. It grows larger quicker and starts pushing on and enclosing the lung causing shortness of breath, severe pain, fatigue, weight loss and cough.