TB Accountability Consortium

TB Accountability Consortium

TBAC attends SA’s TB Indaba, joins calls for unity

If South Africa is going to improve the way it responds to TB in the country, the government, civil society and the private sector are going to have to work together.

This was the overwhelming message at the TB Indaba in June, where stakeholders gathered to talk about the challenges in dealing with TB in the country.

The indaba was a pre-event at the South African AIDS Conference, which took place at the ICC in Durban.  It was hosted by the National TB Control programme.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla opened the indaba calling for “an end to TB in our lifetime”. He outlined a plan for tackling TB in the country.

“For us the adage of prevention is better than cure is as relevant today, as it was when it was first said. The mainstay of us ensuring that we end TB is to invest in the prevention of services to reverse the trends. With your support, we are committed to Ending TB by 2035,” he said.

Former National Department of Health Deputy Director General Yogan Pillay, who is now the director for HIV and TB at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told the gathering that while significant progress has been made in tackling TB in the country, there were still gaps in the TB cascade. These were primarily missing patients and retention to care.

To address these, focus needed to be allocated to the 28 high burden districts, which needed resources.

The country also needed to use all its community assets.

Therefore, it is important to note that despite gains over the past decade in improving treatment initiation and completion and decreasing TB mortality, the TB programme has experienced significant set-backs as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indaba aimed to engage stakeholders about the programme successes, achievements, and challenges, priority areas for the future and new developments in diagnostics, treatment, and prevention.  There were four breakaway sessions focusing on:

Sihle Mahonga-Ndawonde, TBAC project officer said that the indaba was important for TB roleplayers in South Africa reaffirm their commitment to work together in ending TB in the country.

While the indaba was a good idea, there were still elements of the TB response that were unclear. One of these was the fiscal plan to make sure implementation became a reality.