“TB remains the number one killer in South Africa with about 500 000 South Africans developing TB disease annually…”http://www.tac.org.za/news/world-tb-day-memorandum-step-implementation-%E2%80%9Czero-infections-deaths-stigma-and-discrimination
- Doctors Struggling to Fight ‘Totally Drug-Resistant’ Tuberculosis in South Africa” http://www.southafricannews.info/Article.php?ID=405104&
- “The world could be on the brink of an outbreak of a deadly and ‘virtually untreatable’ strain of drug resistant tuberculosis…” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2277177/World-face-outbreak-virtually-untreatable-TB-deadly-strain-discovered-South-Africa.html#ixzz2OfH5DOr8
These are just some of the recent shocking headlines that are of grave concern for Employers in South Africa. We have the highest TB infection rates, AND one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. This dual combination poses a serious threat to the health of our workforce.
The South African Labour Guide recommends that Employers adopt the following elements in a TB Control Programme:
Elements of a Workplace TB Control Programme.
- Commitment by management to provide sustainable resources for TB control in the workplace
- Development and implementation of clear management policies on confidentiality, discrimination, length of time allowed for medical treatment and job modification when necessary; employees should be educated on these policies
- Implementation of environmental infection control measures to minimize the risk of transmission of infection in the workplace
- Engagement with worker representatives from the planning stages and throughout, to ensure their support and participation
- Awareness and educational campaigns to address negative attitudes towards people with TB and increase awareness among the employees about TB
- Psychosocial support for employees who have TB, such as free treatment and services, identical salary during treatment or compensation for loss of income, free transport to health facilities, food support or other motivations to continue treatment
- Access to good quality diagnostic services, particularly sputum smear microscopy to ensure early detection of infectious cases, thereby preventing the further spread of TB
- Provision of an uninterrupted supply of good quality, free drugs accessed through the state health system or purchased directly from accredited suppliers
- Direct observation of standardized short course chemotherapy by a healthcare worker or treatment supporter to ensure a cure and prevent the emergence of drug resistance
- Systematic monitoring and standardized reporting, the assessment of treatment outcomes of infectious TB patients by sputum microscopy at the end of the intensive phase and the end of treatment, cohort analysis of treatment outcomes to determine programme performance and reporting to the national TB control programme