The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) has compelled the labour department to ensure safer working conditions for healthcare workers caring for patients living with TB to prevent the risk of contracting and spreading the disease.
Chumisa Mangaliso, (Hospersa spokesman) has highlighted the fact that the country has made strides in reducing the TB epidemic; the infection rates are still alarming.
Healthcare workers responsible for providing TB/ HIV treatment are faced with disproportionate levels of contracting the viruses while on duty.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers a country to be in a crisis when TB rate are between 200 – 600 cases per 100 000 people; with South Africa having 834 cases per 100 000 people which indicates that the country is above crisis level.
The Hospersa spokesman has stated that occupational health and safety compliance was been neglected by health care employers, thus a complaint would be filed by hospersa with the department of labour.
Personnel protective equipment (N95 mask) is not readily available.
Professor Olive Shisana (a leading public health expert) has linked the contraction and spread of TB to poor leaving conditions and overcrowding.
Professor Shisana said about 60 % of 450 000 people who had TB in South Africa in 2016, were also infected with HIV/ Aids, but this had now increased to 73 %
Professor Shisana said that patient defaulting on their TB treatment was impacting the rise of MDR TB, which has risen to 10 000 cases a year in 2015 as compared to 1000 cases a year in 1996.
Professor Shisana said that it costs the public sector between R128 and R143 a month, which translates to R1532 and R1726 per year per patient to provide ARV drugs and to between R9.4 billion and R10.6 billion with HIV / Aids for all 6.19 million people living with HIV / Aids. The same drug in the private sector costs R22.6 billion and R39.3 billion.