Patients suffering from extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) can't get social grants while being treated at a state facility, the Social Development Department said on Wednesday.
Regulations did not allow the SA Social Security Agency to provide a social grant to anyone being cared for in a state institution, be it a hospital or prison, said spokeswoman Zingaphi Jakuja in a statement.
"The department is aware that in most instances, grant beneficiaries are breadwinners in the family and advises those affected to apply for the social relief of distress (allowance), which is meant for people who are in dire straits, who have been affected by disasters and those who are completely destitute."
This came after the department received a letter from the Aids Law Society raising concerns about the grants of patients hospitalised with the TB were cancelled.
Patients threaten to protest
Recently 12 patients escaped from the Jose Pearson TB hospital in the Eastern Cape. Several others at the Fort Grey hospital went on a hunger strike after their disability grants were cancelled.
Eastern Cape health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the Fort Grey hospital housed about 150 TB patients, the Jose Pearson hospital about 300. He said the patients in Fort Grey started protests after they did not receive their disability grants.
"They want us to discharge them for this reason. We will not entertain such protests."
Social Development minister Dr Zola Skweyiya urged TB patients to put their health first and stay in hospital. "They should not seek to leave hospital before they are cured, just to obtain a grant. They will be putting their lives at risk, including the lives of family members and others who come into contact with them." – (Sapa, September 2008)
6 TB patients on the run in PE
12 TB patients now missing