12 JUNE 2014,

We wish to clarify a statement published in the Times yesterday “TB is killing us”. SECTION27 is quoted as stating: “The government knows what to do to slow the spread of TB but [it] lacks political will.”

We wish to state that we were quoted incorrectly and out of context. We have stated on several occasions that we acknowledge and support the political leadership being provided by health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and the National Department of Health.

The reference to lack of political will was to other government departments that also have a critical role to play in addressing the TB and drug-resistant TB epidemics.

The Department of Justice and Correctional Services has been failing to properly respond to the raging TB and DR-TB epidemic in prisons.

The Department of Public Works is failing to address properly infrastructure failings in health facilities and prisons, where poor ventilation and layout of prisons, clinics and hospitals are contributing to the spread of TB and DR-TB. The captains of the mining industry are failing to implement decisive measures to confront TB in the mines.

As the 4th TB Conference draws to a close with a plenary address by the health minister tomorrow, we again call for the following:

  • TB and DR-TB must be declared a public health emergency that requires an extraordinary plan and a ring-fenced, dedicated and properly resourced budget.
  • A ‘war room’ involving all key stakeholders must be set up in every province to ensure focused TB and DR-TB prevention, improved co-ordination for treatment and rapid response teams for identified problem areas such as stock-outs.
  • The National Department of Health must provide quarterly reports to the South African National AIDS Council and other key stakeholders on a set of crucial indicators, which will be used to assess whether or not we are making meaningful progress against TB and DR-TB.

Further enquiries: Ngqabutho Mpofu 061 807 6443 or via email to mpofu@section27.org.za