According to the World Health Organisation approximately, 1.5 million people in 30 countries have died from TB in 2020 (including 214 000 among HIV positive people) since the outbreak of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
WHO says this is due to the fact that fewer people were being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared to previous years. Moreover, overall spending on essential TB services falling has fallen since 2019.
South Africa is one of the 30 countries included in the study.
“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease.”
Section 27 of the Bill of Rights makes it clear that every person has the right to health care services including reproductive health care, and no person may be refused emergency treatment.
Yet according to the WHO many people suffering from TB were robbed of this right.
WHO says the relocation of human and other resources from TB to Covid-19 and lockdown restriction has limited people’s ability to access essential services.
In response to a growing number of people dying from TB, the Western Cape Government has launched a new TB Dashboard to assist in monitoring the provinces Multisectoral TB response plan.
The TB response plan was approved by the Provincial Council on Aids and TB (PCAT) to address the adverse impact of Covid-19 on TB-related testing, diagnosis and treatment in the province.
“The TB response plan, through the use of this interactive TB dashboard, aims to get our TB response back on track, promote transparency and digitise our response. TB has long been an epidemic in the Western Cape and the dashboard will assist us in collating real-time data to respond effectively”. Said the statement.
The TB dashboard is modelled on the COVID-19 dashboard and includes data on TB cases, deaths, tests, test positivity and drug resistance, from 2015 onwards. These are aggregated and updated monthly to ensure that clinical and laboratory data are representative of the included period.
The right to have access to health care services is a basic human right guaranteed by the Constitution. Section 27 of the Constitution provides that everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care services and no one may be refused emergency medical treatment.
By Siphokazi Mnyobe