Why do so many South Africans die of TB?

CATEGORY: Population Health, Health Systems and Innovation
DATE: 16 May 2018
AUTHOR: Groundup.org.za

Part one of a three part series on a neglected disease which kills over 100,000 South Africans every year

Listeriosis has killed about 200 people since January last year. In the past six months, the outbreak has generated many headlines. There was a huge investigation to identify its source. Once identified, large amounts of meat and other produce were destroyed as a precaution against new infections.

In the last 14 hours about the same number of people died of another bacterium –Tuberculosis. The World Health Organisation estimates that 124,000 people died of TB in South Africa in 2016 (about 330 daily). It is the country’s leading cause of death, and has been made much worse by the HIV epidemic: over 80% of people who died of TB in 2016 were also infected with HIV. People with damaged immune systems are at much greater risk of becoming ill with TB.

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