New report raises concern over undetected TB in communities

New report raises concern over undetected TB in communities

Undetected tuberculosis (TB) in communities remains a problem, according to a new study commissioned by the Department of Health.


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South Africa has a high TB burden with 35-44 age group year and over 65-year-olds accounting for the largest prevalence. 


The country’s first-ever TB Prevalence Survey was launched on Friday morning.

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According to the new survey, it’s estimated that 737 people per 100 000 suffer from some form of TB in the country.


“For the age groups 35-44 years old we found TB prevalence was at 1107 per 100 000 which translates into 1%. For those who were 65 years or older the prevalence was 1104 per 100 000 for TB,” said the Human Sciences Research Council’s Dr Sizulu Moyo.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said more research is needed to establish why these age groups are so susceptible to TB.



“We need to analyse the dynamics that have resulted in this finding for these age groups. Social science must guide us to ensure our interventions are meaningful and impactful.”

Another key finding was the fact that HIV negative people were the least likely to test for TB. 

“If you look at it by HIV positivity it was more in those who were HIV negative who were least likely to test for TB,” said Moyo.


“We found that 66.6% of the participants who had one or more symptoms reported that they had not sought care for their symptoms at the time of their survey.”

Mkhize believes the manner in which TB testing is done needs to change. 

“We now need to encourage everyone to screen and test for TB to achieve elimination. 

“The work of advocacy will need to adopt a multisectoral approach. We, as government, are ready to forge the necessary partnerships with civil society, social partners and colleagues in communication to spread the word throughout the land.”

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