PRETORIA — The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and a Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) representing a group of 10 Southern African countries today signed a landmark grant to pioneer innovative models to reduce high rates of Tuberculosis (TB) in the mining sector.
The US$30 million grant will support transformative interventions in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The World Bank Group serves as the Secretariat for the RCM while the Wits Health Consortium acts as the Principal Recipient of the Grant.
“Gold miners in southern Africa have some of the highest rates of TB infection in the world, we are committed to investing vigorously to reduce rates as much as possible,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “To end TB as an epidemic, we have to be effective here.”
The Grant links strongly to the World Bank Group’s twin goals of eradicating poverty and promoting shared prosperity by 2030. It is also aligned with its global strategy for health, nutrition, and population, which seeks to help countries expand access to quality, affordable health care; protect people from falling into poverty or worsening poverty due to illness; and promote investments in all sectors that form the foundation of healthy societies.
”TB is not only a disease of poverty, but it also creates poverty and is a threat to global health security. Our goal in southern Africa is therefore to achieve our twin goals through a targeted focus on addressing the drivers of TB in the mining sector,” said Dr. Patrick Osewe, Lead Health Specialist, World Bank Health, Nutrition and Population Practice.
TB is a significant problem within the Southern African mining industry. In South Africa alone, TB rates within the gold mining workforce are estimated at 2,500-3,000 cases per 100,000 individuals. This incidence is 10 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) threshold for a health emergency, and is also 2.5 to 3 times the incidence rate in the general population. Factors that contribute to the high incidence of TB among mineworkers include prolonged exposure to silica dust, poor living conditions, high HIV prevalence, poverty and a poor cross border health referral system.
“Today represents the success of an initiative started in 2011 when three champions of the TB and Mining cause – Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of South Africa, Dr. Mphu Ramatlapeng, former Minister of Health of Lesotho; and Mr. Benedict Xaba, former Minister of Health of Swaziland, brought this issue to the attention of the Stop TB Partnership Board and Heads of State in the Southern Africa region,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.
The Southern Africa TB in the Mining Sector Initiative is an innovative multi-stakeholder effort involving representatives from the ten country coordinating mechanisms (CCM), Ministries of Health, Mineral Resources, and, Labor; mining companies; current and ex-mineworkers’ associations; labor unions; development agencies; civil society, and research institutions. The Grant is the culmination of efforts that started in January last year with the submission of a joint proposal by the ten countries to the Global Fund.
”For over a century, we have dealt with a seemingly insurmountable challenge. With this Grant, we seek to force a paradigm shift in the way we have addressed TB in the mining sector and set new standards worthy of emulation,” noted Donald Tobaiwa, Chair, RCM.