Deputy President David Mabuza officially opening of the 5th South African (SA) TB Conference today, 12 June 2018, at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

DURBAN – Deputy President David Mabuza on Tuesday said that advancing awareness about preventing the spread of tuberculosis (TB) and AIDS related deaths will involve youths becoming revolutionary ambassadors for health.

Mabuza was delivering the keynote address at the 5th South African TB Conference at Durban’s International Convention Centre on Tuesday night. About 1,500 delegates are registered to attend the three-day-event.  

“It is again in the hands of our youth to be the new revolutionary ambassadors across society, to advance awareness about how to prevent the spread of TB and stop TB and AIDS related deaths,” he said.

It was worth noting that the conference was taking place during the country’s youth month, said Mabuza.

“In their united action against the indignity and evil of racial oppression, our young people drew a line in the sand and demanded a just society based on human dignity, non-racialism, non-sexism, and democratic governance,” he said.

The same determination was called for to end preventable and treatable infections of TB and HIV.

Mabuza said he was looking forward to the first ever United Nations High Level Meeting on TB, which would be held on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26. The conference thus had to set the stage for South Africa’s contribution to the high level meeting, he said.

“The Department of Health estimates that annually we are missing about 160,000 patients with TB, which is our country’s contribution to the more than four million people globally with TB that are not on treatment. Undiagnosed TB infected person constitute a significant mobile and invisible infectious pool of people that unknowingly spread the disease to others, including children," he said.

“Like the rest of the world, we have joined the global effort to find these patients as rapidly as possible. Once found, we will ensure that they are initiated on treatment and successfully treated.”

Mabuza said that following successful discussions with the speaker of parliament, the country’s TB Caucus would be launched ahead of the high-level meeting. 

“This formation will energise members of Parliament to also advocate for the end of TB,” he said.

Additionally, government was seeking to screen and test 14 million people for HIV and TB, and seven million for high blood pressure and diabetes annually over the next three years, in line with the national screening and testing campaign. 

“This will help us add an additional two million HIV infected persons to the existing 4 million already receiving ARVs by December 2020. The campaign will also contribute to finding the missing 160,000 TB infected persons, especially in TB high burden areas,” he said.

African News Agency(ANA)