Deputy President David Mabuza has called on
young people to become tuberculosis (TB) “champions” at the opening of the 5th
South African TB Conference on Tuesday in Durban.
“While TB is preventable and curable, it remains the leading cause of
death in South Africa and this cannot be acceptable to any one of us,” he said
“It is worth noting
that we meet during South Africa’s Youth Month. To us, this month serves as a
reminder of the power of young people as agents of change.”
Just under 2 000
delegates are expected to attend the four-day conference which brings policy
makers, academics, health workers and activists together to identify the next
steps needed to effectively tackle TB.
Dr Margot Uys said that one of the biggest hurdles for South Africa is that
there are up to 160 000 “missing cases” – undiagnosed patients who, for
various reasons, do not go to health facilities for treatment and continue to
spread the disease in their communities.
“The most important thing for us is we need to find those
160 000 missing patients. And that is everyone’s responsibility,” she
While Mabuza agreed that “everyone” needs
to “lend a hand” to “bring the TB epidemic to its end”, he said that young
people especially should be called upon “to work with us to ensure that no one is left behind as we proactively
go out to find people infected with TB and put them on treatment”.
Revolutionary ambassadors needed
“How can we forget that
it was the determined and heroic youth of our land, who on the 16th of June
1976 faced the tyranny and might of an oppressive system?” he asked.
Mabuza said that “same
determination is called for” now, and it “is again in the hands of our youth to
be the new revolutionary ambassadors across society, to advance awareness about
how to prevent the spread of TB and stop TB and Aids related deaths”.
He said: “It is an indictment on all of us that the TB epidemic has been allowed
to prevail for too long both globally and in our country. Nobody should needlessly
die, and definitely, not from TB.” – Health-e News.
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