SA leads master plan to blot out TB worldwide
The global approach to beating tuberculosis means it will take almost 200 years to eradicate it, despite it being a curable disease.
Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, said: "It is a human tragedy that TB is killing 1.5million people a year and nobody speaks about ending it."
Global health experts, including Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, will today launch a plan to end TB.
The plan requires $56-billion (about R785-billion) for five years, starting from next year.
Ditiu said domestic funding provided about $7-billion of the $11-billion needed worldwide each year, but even with donor funding there would be a shortfall of $2.5-billion a year.
To end TB the plan needs 90% of people with the disease treated, and a 90% cure rate. South Africa's cure rate is currently about 75%.
The plan states that: "Of the nearly 10million individuals who get sick with TB each year, 4million people are consistently missed by health systems. They do not receive effective treatment and can infect up to 15 other people per year.
"Finding and treating all of them is essential if we are to bring about the unprecedented rate of decline in TB that has not been seen since World War2, but will be necessary to end the disease."
New antibiotics are needed to fight multidrug-resistant TB, which is now known as "airborne cancer". It is growing globally and in South Africa, where at least 50% of patients will die.
What is also needed is a vaccine and better diagnostic systems.
Ditiu said: "With current financing and knowledge we won't have a vaccine until 2025."
The plan singled out Motsoaledi for his role in tackling TB.
Ditiu said South Africa was one of the few countries that funded its treatment with its own resources.
"Your health minister is putting TB very high on the agenda."
South Africa screens vulnerable people, such as prisoners, for TB.
"He is putting machines to screen for TB in prisons. This is unheard of in other countries."