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March - Tuberculosis (TB) Awareness Month - Together We Can Eliminate Tuberculosis

Du Plessis M, The Aurum Institute Monday, 06 March 2017 08:42

Tuberculosis (TB) - A curable and preventable disease is the cause of thousands of deaths every year, not only in South Africa but across the globe.


World TB Day which is held annually on 24 March, commemorates the day in 1882 when the well-known Dr Robert Koch greatly surprised the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of Tuberculosis, the TB bacillus, a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that is a major cause of tuberculosis.

"At the time of Dr Robert Koch's announcement in Berlin, Tuberculosis was rapidly increasing through Europe and the Americas, being the cause of death to one out of every seven people."

Koch's discovery allowed access toward identifying the nature of and curing tuberculosis.


The main purpose of Tuberculosis Awareness month is to support global efforts by controlling TB through increasing knowledge of the disease and developing solutions to stop the spread of TB.

TB month is an annual event where there are activities planned that encourage governments and health facilities across the globe to reach out to communities and creating programs in an attempt to increase the awareness around the Tuberculosis disease.

It is very important that people are educated and made aware of all the signs and symptoms of TB.

TB Awareness Month encourages people to participate in the efforts to stop the spread of TB by way of intervention and public knowledge.


Tuberculosis, or better known as TB, is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs, although the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream and affect any organ in the human body. Tuberculosis can be transmitted from one person to another via droplets from the throat and lungs of persons infected with the TB disease. The World Health Organisation estimates that the largest number of new TB cases in 2005 occurred in south-east Asia, which accounted for approximately 34 percent of incident cases globally.


tuberculosis symptoms

Signs and symptoms of active TB include (, 2017) :

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite


World TB Day, falling on March 24th each year, is designed to build public awareness that Tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

KEY FACTS ABOUT TB (World Health Organization, 2017):

  • South Africa is one of the countries with the highest burden of TB, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics giving an estimated incidence of 450,000 cases of active TB in 2013.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
  • According to WHO 10.4 million people suffered from TB and 1.8 million died from the disease in 2015 (including 0.4 million among people with HIV).
  • Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Out of the 450,000 incident cases in South Africa, it is estimated by WHO that about 270,000 (60%) people have both HIV and TB infection.
  • South Africa falls under one of the six countries accounting a total of 60%, with India leading the count, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
  • An estimated 1 million children suffered from TB and 170 000 children died of TB in 2015(excluding children with HIV).
  • TB is one of the main causes of death in HIV-positive people: 35% of HIV deaths were due to TB in 2015.
  • Worldwide an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in 2015.
  • To reach the 2020 milestones of the "End TB Strategy", the TB incidence has to decline by an average of 4-5%. Since 2000, the average rate the TB incidence has fallen by 1,5% per year.
  • Lives saved was estimated at 49 million through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2015.
  • Among the health targets of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals is to end the TB epidemic by 2030.


One of the main causes that people die from tuberculosis (TB) is them living with the disease, undiagnosed or being diagnosed too late.

However all age groups are at risk, Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.

People who are infected with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB. The risk of active TB is also bigger in persons suffering from other impairing immune system conditions.

Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. More than 20% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.


The Department of Health, through their Khomanani TB programme encourages all South African’s to join in the united pledge to stop TB. TB is preventable and curable, yet our people still die from this disease. To fight TB, all South Africans should stand together and pledge that:

  • I will go for an examination if I cough for longer than two weeks
  • I will advise anyone who coughs for more than two weeks to go for an examination
  • I will take my treatment until the end if I am diagnosed with TB
  • I will help TB patients take their medication everyday
  • I will ensure that my actions do not affect TB patients negatively.


Our remit is to improve the health of people and communities through innovation in TB and HIV integration in global health areas. With our knowledge and skills, we are best suited to achieve this by:

  • Strengthening existing health care systems
  • Constantly innovating to improve the way things are done
  • Conducting research to determine the best ways and means to eliminating TB and HIV

We do this with one aim – to make a differential impact – underpinned by an evidence-based track record of excellence in delivery against programme objectives which have a transformational impact on health in the communities in which we work.

In the pursuit to eradicate the Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV pandemics, The Aurum Institute is an internationally recognised, specialist research and implementation organisation. An authority in our field, we were originally established in the mining sector.

An authority in our field, we have spent the last decade totally focused on researching, monitoring, training, treating and managing these two epidemics, as well as occupational and other diseases, making a substantial and measurable difference in the lives of people in Southern Africa, and ultimately in the region’s economy.


Aurum's team of experts in the field of TB includes:

Prof Gavin Churchyard Group CEO, Chairperson Technical Expert Group
Prof Robert Wallis Chief Scientist Officer
Dr Salome Charalambous Managing Director: Implementation Research Division
Dr Vinodh Edward Managing Director: Clinical Research Division
Kavindhran Velen Senior Programme Manager
Dr Pholo Maenetje Basic Scientist
Dr Mandla Mlotshwa Scientist
Dr Bintou Ahidjo Scientist
Trevor Beattie Programme Manager
Lungile Mbata Programme Manager
Dr Craig Innes Clinical Director: Clinical Research Division
Dr Modulakgotla Sebe Clinical Research Site Leader
Dr William Brumskine Clinical Research Site Leader
Dr Uthestra Chetty Principal Investigator: Tembisa Clinical Research Centre



World Health Organization. (2017). World Health Organization. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2017].

TB (2017). TB Statistics for South Africa | National & provincial. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2017]. (2017). Symptoms and causes - Tuberculosis - Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2017].

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