Anti-TB Fight Has Big Return on Investment, Says Health Minister
Investing in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) offers potentially huge future savings, with an estimated return of $85 for every dollar spent.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said this on Monday, a day before the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Cape Town. The biggest international gathering of its kind, the conference is set to attract more than 3,000 scientists, policy makers and activists.
“We got the experts to complete the investment case for TB and they came up with five scenarios. The result was if we do nothing now, we will pay very dearly in the future,” he said.
SA is among the countries hardest hit by the global TB epidemic, the world’s biggest infectious killer, responsible for 1.5-million deaths last year. SA, which has the world’s second-highest infection rate, had an estimated 380,000 TB patients last year, placing the country ninth-highest among the 22 high-burden states.
Stop TB’s new Global Plan to end TB, released on November 20, warned that unless there was an overhaul of its handling of TB, it would take more than 180 years to eliminate.
Dr Motsoaledi endorsed the plan’s call for change, saying SA had made major changes to the way it combats TB. The South African National Aids Council agreed two years ago that tackling TB was crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and identified prisoners, mine workers and mining communities as vulnerable. A screening programme had been established this year to target these populations, said the minister.