The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) comprised of representatives from 10 Southern African countries recently received $30 million to fight tuberculosis (TB).
The groups signed a historic grant that will create innovative models to decrease the rates of TB that are found within the South African mining industry. The funds will be used to help with programs in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Gold miners in southern Africa have some of the highest rates of TB infection in the world; we are committed to investing vigorously to reduce rates as much as possible,” Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund, said. “To end TB as an epidemic, we have to be effective here.”
Within the South African mining industry, there are between 2,500 and 3,000 TB cases for every 100,000 people. This is an incidence rate 10 times higher than the threshold for a health emergency, as standardized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“TB is not only a disease of poverty, but it also creates poverty and is a threat to global health security,” Dr. Patrick Osewe, aWorld Bank Health lead health specialist, said. “Our goal in southern Africa is therefore to achieve our twin goals through a targeted focus on addressing the drivers of TB in the mining sector.”
The world leaders are optimistic about the ability of these funds to transform how the nations fight TB.
“For over a century, we have dealt with a seemingly insurmountable challenge,” RCM Chair Donald Tobaiwa said. “With this grant, we seek to force a paradigm shift in the way we have addressed TB in the mining sector and set new standards worthy of emulation.”