Tuberculosis (TB) related deaths have declined by 2%, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe said.
"Although it has long been acknowledged that the huge burden of disease due to TB infection is the leading cause of death in our country, the latest report by Statistics SA shows that we are beginning to make progress in this regard," he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
Motlanthe was speaking at the 2014 World TB Day in Kokosi near Carletonville, west of Johannesburg on Monday 24 March.
Mineworkers at particularly high risk
He said mineworkers were at particularly high risk of contracting TB because of a convergence of occupational and lifestyle-related risk factors.
These included the high prevalence of silicosis resulting from prolonged exposure to silica dust in mine shafts, accommodation in overcrowded hostels, circular migration between home communities and mine locations, mining-related occupational hazards, high levels of HIV infection and poor access to or usage of routine health services.
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The mining industry in South Africa was heavily dependent on migrant workers from rural areas and surrounding countries, with up to 40% of workers migrating annually between South African mines and Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.
"The frequent migratory movement of mineworkers, across provincial and national borders, extends the high risk of contracting TB and multi drug resistant-TB to communities surrounding mines and to the communities from which the workers originate and to which they return," Motlanthe said.
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