World TB Day celebrated on 24 March each year, is an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide and the status of TB prevention and care efforts. It is also an opportunity to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress in efforts to end TB.
South Africa is struggling to conquer its top killer with more focus needed on poor communities as drug resistant strains take hold and wreak havoc with 80 percent of the country’s young adults already infected with TB.
TB and HIV related illnesses were the two leading causes of death among young people in 2013 and of the 77 822 people below the ages of 35 who died in 2013, 10 962 died from TB with 7 890 succumbing to HIV.
2017 is the second year of a two-year “Unite to End TB” campaign for World TB Day. With this year placing special focus on uniting efforts to “Leave No One Behind”, including actions to address stigma, discrimination, marginalization and overcome barriers to access care.
Within the Eastern Cape the TB event was held in Uitenhage on the 29th of March. Six high schools and six primary schools rife in TB areas were targeted. The high schools underwent a debate competition touching on issues around TB and HIV, whilst the primary schools engaged in a mini 7-aside soccer tournament where the local football club Chippa United will participate and share messages with the kids on TB and HIV. Concurrently there was also provision of TB, blood pressure, HIV testing.
The Red Cross also has a weekly slot (Wednesdays) on a local radio station IFM where messages on TB and HIV are shared and interviews addressing issues on these diseases are touched.