There's a TB crisis in the mines of Southern Africa. Of the 2.3 million cases of tuberculosis in Africa, more than 760,000 are connected to mining. Nine in 10 miners have TB. A miner with active TB can spread the disease to 10-15 people in a year. Mining represents a huge portion of African economies. The reality is stark and the TB crisis in the mines of Southern Africa is becoming more acute and more dangerous every year, threatening workers and industry.
Sign the petition below to pressure South African Development Community Nations (SADC) to prioritize TB R&D for new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.
Dear Southern African Development Community Nations,
I’m standing with Aeras and its partners in calling upon you to prioritize tuberculosis R&D in the Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector.
While we scale up disease control efforts today, new tools are urgently needed to significantly reduce the spread of TB in the mines, and the broader region, in order to achieve TB elimination.
TB is claiming the lives of thousands of miners each year. South African gold mines are reported to have the highest rates of TB in the world, contributing to the spread of this airborne, infectious disease across the region1.
TB is also a serious economic issue for miners and their families, industry and governments. Each year, staggering numbers of miners develop active TB, keeping them out of the workforce. In countries like South Africa, where mining contributes approximately 20% of GDP and more than 1 million jobs2, TB threatens the long-term economic viability of the industry due to rising costs and limitations of what can be achieved through traditional disease control methods. SADC nations, and the world, need new tools to fight this epidemic.
Public-private partnerships to support TB R&D remain the best long-term solution to getting to zero deaths, zero new infections and zero suffering. We urgently recommend that SADC ministers prioritize tuberculosis R&D in the Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector.
I’m signing this letter because I feel strongly that we must close the R&D gap in the SADC’s Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector.
1. Dharmadhikari A, et. al. Aspiring to Zero Tuberculosis Deaths Among Southern Africa’s Miners: Is There a Way Forward? International Journal of Health Services 43(4):651-664, 2013.
2. Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Facts & Figures 2012; Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Annual Report 2013.