CAPE TOWN, June 12 (Xinhua) -- South Africa must not leave any tuberculosis (TB) patient untreated if it is to achieve the goal of ending TB by 2030 in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Tuesday.
"Like the rest of the world, we have joined the global effort to find these patients as rapidly as possible," Mabuza said in his key-note address at the 5th South African TB Conference taking place in Durban.
Under the theme "Step Up! Let's embrace all to end TB," the conference is designed to provide concrete proposals on finding those who are missing in the health system, but who carry TB.
"It is also a platform that offers us an opportunity to share experiences on what needs to be done to strengthen our health and social systems," Mabuza said.
Mabuza cited figures from the Department of Health as saying that annually South Africa is missing about 160,000 patients with TB, which is the country's contribution to the more than four million people globally with TB that are not on treatment.
It is the government's wish that innovative means of finding these missing patients will be one of the country's contributions to the upcoming first ever United Nations High Level Meeting on TB, to be held on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26 this year, Mabuza said.
"South Africa, we confirm our participation at a presidential level," he said.
Undiagnosed TB infected persons constitute a significant mobile and invisible infectious pool of people that unknowingly spread the disease to others, including children, Mabuza said.
"While TB is preventable and curable, it remains the leading cause of death in South Africa and this cannot be acceptable to any one of us," said Mabuza.
"We must explore the best ways of mobilizing the human and financial resources to improve health outcomes in informal settlements, in rural villages and in those that are most vulnerable to acquiring TB in our country," he added.
Through government interventions, South Africa is making reasonable progress with treatment success of drug sensitive TB which nationally exceeded 85 percent in 2016, a level that is among the best in the world, according to Mubaza.
South Africa has adopted the 90-90-90 targets in the fight against TB.
These targets require the government to find by 2020 at least 90 percent of people infected with TB in the general population, at least 90 percent of those infected among key populations and vulnerable groups and treat successfully at least 90 percent of those who are in the treatment programs.
Mabuza said the government is 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.
The campaign will also contribute to finding the missing 160,000 TB infected persons, especially in TB high burden areas, he said.
"Whereas these interventions on their own are not sufficient, they are critical if the goal of ending TB by 2030 is to be realized and sustained," Mabuza said.
According to the World Health Organization, TB remains among the top 10 leading causes of death globally.