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‘Tuberculosis has huge economic impact’

Johannesburg - The high number of mine workers with Tuberculosis (TB) has a huge impact on the economy, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.

“This disease, which is the leading cause of death in our country, has a huge impact on workforce productivity and operational costs in an industry that contributes almost 20 percent to South Africa's GDP,” Motlanthe said at a TB in the mining sector regional meeting in Sandton.

TB prevalence was higher in mining communities than in the general population.

Motlanthe said TB contracted in mines placed a huge burden on the public sector health system.

“The fact that disease rates have been disproportionately high for more than a century has contributed to the build-up of unresolved legacy issues for an industry in which appropriate humane standards of treatment, care, workers' protection, and compensation have rarely been comprehensively enforced,” he said.

TB was not just a health issue but also a labour and development issue.

“Of the 54 countries on the African continent, 46 have mineral resources of commercial importance,” he said. - Sapa

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