South Africa has the sixth highest tuberculosis prevalence in the world, and it is one of the leading causes of death in South Africa with 75% of all TB cases also related to HIV.
In trying to find ways to overcome this statistic, Deputy President David Mabuza, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu and KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo, engaged with traditional leaders, who the department of health sees as influencers, at an event held in Cato Manor, Ethekwini.
Dhlomo expressed the need to unite towards one achievable goal which is to see the end of TB and HIV.
“Leaders [traditional leaders] are big influencers, when they call upon the nation to act, the nation rises in response. These leaders are expected to unite to end TB and HIV by taking action … This year’s theme is meant to put leadership at all levels in the forefront of influencing decision making at all levels to promote prevention, screening and treatment for TB,” said Dhlomo.
New evidence by the South African Aids council has also shown a link between TB and diabetes.
“The sooner you get to the clinic the better, in order to get properly cured and curb the spread,” added Dhlomo.
The KwaZulu-Natal MEC of health also stressed the importance of those diagnosed with the disease to finish their six month treatment course.
“If one does not finish the course, the disease will come back in your system and in most cases it comes back even worse,” he explained.
Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, chair of the KwaZulu-Natal house of traditional leaders, pledged that as traditional leaders they would commit themselves in the fight to stop TB and HIV.