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Health Leaders Pledge Accelerated Efforts to Combat Tuberculosis & the TB/HIV Co-Epidemic in Southern Africa

Health leaders from governments, international agencies and civil society gathered in Swaziland on March 21st to launch an accelerated response to the TB and TB/HIV epidemics in Africa as the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) looms near.

With roughly 1,000 days left until the MDGs expire and Africa not on track to hit the TB target, delegates at the meeting pushed forward by signing the Swaziland Statement. This document commits them to work with countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and to contribute their political, economic and technical influence toward the goal of halving the deaths from TB and HIV-associated TB before 2015 as compared to 1990 levels.

In response to rising tuberculosis prevalence among employees in the mining sector, a World Bank official announced that the Bank would: conduct economic analysis on TB and mining to inform industry and government decisions; implement an action plan for the management of mining-related TB; and develop an industry-led investment strategy to increase TB case identification and treatment.

South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi also addressed these issues. “We must prioritize action in the hot spots, and one of the hottest of these is TB in the mining industry. The new partnerships that we are witnessing today between government, the corporate sector, and global agencies can and must drive our renewed effort in the next 1,000 days."

Further, several major international organizations pledged their support for combatting TB. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will give $102 million in new funding to TB programs in SADC countries. The UK Department for International Development pledged $220,000 to match funding from the private sector; and the Stop TB Partnership announced that $10 million in short-term grants will be dedicated to TB case detection projects in SADC countries.

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Read the Swaziland Statement