TB Accountability Consortium

TB Accountability Consortium

UNHLM 2023: South Africa must share its TB data if we are to make progress against this disease 

The UN High Level Meeting on TB taking place in New York has provided the perfect platform for global leaders to recommit to the longstanding goal of ending TB by 2030. 

But the meeting also provides a chance for South African health authorities to rethink their approach to South Africa’s TB response.  

The TB Accountability Consortium calls on the South African government to take a more transparent approach by releasing the data around South Africa’s TB response. Providing this information will allow organisations, researchers and advocacy groups working in the TB space to monitor the implementation and hold the government to account.  

“We need the data. There is no definitive figure stipulating how many people were tested for TB in 2022. Nor is there any figure indicating how many people were put on treatment,” says Sihle Mahonga Ndawonde, project officer at the TB Accountability Consortium.  

She adds that there are still many questions. “How many of them have been retained? And how many people are still lost to care? How many people who are in close contact with people living with TB were actually treated? We need answers.”   

This week’s UNHLM follows a high-level meeting in September 2018 where global leaders signed a political declaration committing to ending TB by 2030 through by diagnosing and treating 40 million people with tuberculosis by 2022 and providing preventative treatment to 30 million people who are most at risk of falling ill. They also committed to mobilise financing for these TB targets. 

These goals have, however, stalled because of the three-year COVID pandemic, which has had a significant impact on the TB prevention and care. As a result of the pandemic the global tuberculosis targets are off track. 

In South Africa alone, based on statistics from the World Health Organization, there was a 41% decline in TB case notifications in 2020, compared to 2019. This was mainly due to reduced TB testing, and not due to lower TB rates.  

South Africa’s health authorities have developed a TB Recovery Plan to help the country gain momentum in its TB response and regain some of its losses. But two years after the plan was mooted, it is yet to be implemented.  

As the TBAC, we have three key asks from the South African government, and particularly the Minister of Health:  

1. Implement the TB Recovery Plan: In 2021 South Africa developed a TB Recovery Plan to help the country regain momentum in its fight against TB. But this plan is yet to be rolled out anywhere in the country.   

2. Ensure sufficient funding: Government needs to secure the necessary funding to ensure that the TB Recovery Plan can be implemented, particularly in the 14 high burden TB districts.  

3. Increase accountability: There needs to be improved accountability at all levels of the health system from faculty to district, provincial and national levels to ensure that the country is able to see increases in the number of people who are being treated for TB and decreases in the number of people who are dying.  

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Sihle Mahonga Ndawonde      

072 568 9767