19July2018

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NW Health MEC declares war on TB in the mines.

In a first of its kind, Mine Workers Unions, AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union), and NUM (National Union of Mineworkers), came together with mining houses, Tau Lekoa, and Anglo Gold Ashanti and agreed to a concerted effort in creating a safe and TB free work environment at the mines.

This follows efforts by MEC for Health in the North-West Province, Dr. Magome Masike to convene an exclusive meeting with Mineworkers Unions in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda region to help stop the spread of Tuberculosis. The MEC was accompanied by representatives from the Presidency, the National Health Ministry, Political leadership from Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, SANAC, TB Ambassadors and Correctional Services; who committed to support the programme.

Part of the objective of the meeting was to encourage mineworkers, mining communities and inmates to undergo TB screening and testing.

In his address, MEC Masike said South Africa is currently facing a huge burden of TB and statistics show that it is the leading cause of death in the country.

"When somebody dies in mining accidents we make a lot of noise but when a miner dies of TB we say nothing and yet TB kills more Miners than Mining accidents" said the MEC. Masike said the country needs to give TB the necessary attention and intervention it deserves and that all South Africans should screen for TB emphasizing the notion of "A re batleng TB".

"When we find someone with TB, the whole family members must be checked, when there is one child at school with TB, the whole school must be checked, when a Mineworker has been diagnosed with TB, his roommates and colleagues must also be checked.

"We need to scale up our response especially within the communities around the mining towns of Orkney, Stillfontein and Klerksdorp. We must aim at making sure that 90% of our people are screened, 90% of the screened get tested and 90% of the tested are initiated on treatment", said MEC Masike.

Leaders of Mine workers Unions from both AMCU and NUM were given an opportunity to give feedback on the MEC's presentation. NUM Deputy Chairperson for Health and Safety, Sizwe Mphenya, said they are happy to partner with government in saving the workforce against TB.

All the Mineworkers Union Representatives who attended the meeting were organised into a task team that will map out strategies and mechanisms meant to reduce the spread of TB within the mining sector.

North West TB Ambassador Thabo Pelesane congratulated the efforts done by the Health Department. He said, "Had it not been for the high quality of health care and technology used within the Public service health institutions, particularly the Tshepong Hospital TB Unit, I would not have been completely healed from TB!" The ambassador emphasised the need to spread the message to all corners of society.

The MEC also utilized the platform to promote healthy lifestyle among the mining community. He emphasized that non-communicable diseases like Diabetes and Hypertension, shouldn't be killing anybody because they can be controlled.

"Let's not be killed by things we can stop from killing us. Let's preach this gospel to the rest of the communities, concluded the MEC.

The "Massive Comprehensive Tuberculosis (TB) Campaign" will be officially launched by Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi on 24 March 2015 in Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District of the North West province. The campaign  will run from March 2015 to March 2016. The theme of the campaign is "Ending South Africa's TB epidemic: accelerating our response in key populations". The identified key populations include the Miners, the Inmates at correctional facilities, the Peri-mining communities and the Early Childhood Development Centers. The call for action is Find, Treat and Cure TB(A re batleng TB) in hard to reach Communities and Children. 

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The Department derives its mandate from the following laws:
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act, 108 of 1996
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