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MotsoalediSowetan reports that all doctors and nurses could soon be subjected to annual TB tests as health minister Aaron Motsoaledi ups the ante on the rampant infection.  

Speaking at the University of Cape Town (UCT) last week, Motsoaledi said the long-awaited policy to protect health workers against TB could become a reality after the 8 May elections.  He indicated:  “We must have health workers tested, maybe once a year, because many of them are vulnerable to TB … We think that the time has come, and we believe that very soon we will be introducing that policy and health workers must be tested once a year.”  The policy, which has been in the pipeline for three years, will seek to address the fact that the TB infection rate of 21% among SA health workers is second only to China’s rate of 30%.  Motsoaledi also said the country would start screening every clinic patient in an effort to identify the 160,000 TB patients believed to be undiagnosed, untreated and infectious.  The health department has already started intensifying its TB contact-tracing programme, which Motsoaledi said must include health workers who were at high risk of infection.  The SA Medical Association (SAMA) welcomed Motsoaledi’s proposal in respect of testing, but suggested it should apply to everyone who worked in clinics and hospitals, including cleaners.  TB is the leading cause of death in SA and affects 60% of HIV-positive people.

  • Read more of this Sowetan report by Sipokazi Fokazi at SA Labour News

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