World TB Day: Launch of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs in Rustenburg

World TB Day on Friday, 24 March saw the launch of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (2023-2028) at a commemoration event at the Tlhabane Stadium in Rustenburg. TB HIV Care’s CEO, Prof. Harry Hausler, joined the event which was held under the banner of ‘Yes! You and I can End TB’ – a clarion call to encourage all South Africans to contribute to the national effort against TB.

The National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs will guide the national response to these epidemics for the next five years (across civil society, government, affected communities and other sectors) – and the event saw key stakeholders and decision makers gather to mark the occasion. Prof. Hausler met with South Africa’s Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla, where he advocated for the rapid adoption or local adaptation of World Health Organization guidelines. He also met with Dr Nkateko Mkhondo, SA WHO TB Advisor. WHO has agreed to fund a satellite session at SA AIDS Conference 2023 (20-23 June) to consult with delegates on the UNHLM on TB, UHC and pandemic preparedness.

Other dignitaries at the event included the Premier of the North West province, Mr Bushy Maape; SANAC Civil Society Chairperson Ms Steve Letsike; the Chairperson of the SANAC Private Sector Forum, Ms Mpumi Zikalala; and representatives from governmental partners, research entities, civil society movements and the private sector.

The launch of the new NSP on World TB Day signals a growing recognition of the need to prioritise the response to TB in South Africa, where the disease has been the leading cause of death for more than a decade. We look forward to fulfilling the promise of the NSP and ending TB!

TB Data, Sex and Gender

Did you know that males in South Africa are 1,6 times more likely to have TB than females? That’s 1,094 per 100,000 vs 675 per 100,000 respectively, according to the 2019 TB Prevalence Survey.

One of the findings of the South African Community, Rights and Gender Assessment was that while information about biological sex is collected at facility-level, it is not generally available for analysis in relation to TB statistics. This means that districts and provinces are largely unaware of how and whether sex impacts on their TB statistics. Similarly, any interventions implemented to reach males or females are difficult to monitor.

Information around gender (for example, cisgender, transgender, gender fluid or non-binary) is not routinely collected and there is therefore little data about how gender minorities experience TB services. This even though the limited data that does exist suggests that discrimination creates significant barriers to accessing care for gender minorities.

On Wednesday, 29 March 2023 TB HIV Care hosted a workshop in Johannesburg to explore how information around sex and gender is currently collected, and how it can – or should – be collected and presented within TB statistics.

The workshop, which was attended by representatives from SANAC and civil society, resulted in a draft position statement that will be presented to the CSF TB Task Team for adoption.

The ultimate aim is that the CSF TB Task Team will meet with the National TB Task Team to present the finalised position statement calling for real-time, sex-disaggregated TB data that helps inform and create evidence based-strategies to address differential disease risk and service utilisation.

IAS 2019: Mexico City

TB HIV Care was well represented at the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science, which took place from 21 July to 24 July 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico.

The IAS Conference on HIV Science is the world’s most influential meeting on HIV research and features diverse topics, speakers and cutting-edge studies.

TB HIV Care’s Prof. Harry Hausler presented on isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) among key populations at a TB and HIV satellite session, while Dr Andrew Scheibe participated in an HIV and viral hepatitis pre-conference session – as well as sharing findings of South Africa’s harm reduction coverage and gaps in an oral presentation (see article below).

TB HIV Care also had several meetings and engagements with partners, including UNITE, GNP+ and others.

TB HIV Care’s harm reduction work received media coverage, and you can read the article here:
Low harm reduction coverage for people who inject drugs in South Africa