The world was recently shocked by the news of South African police gunning down protesting mine workers. But the untold story is more insidious and far more lethal.
South Africa’s mining industry is a hotbed of tuberculosis infection, due to crowded and unhealthy working conditions.
One third of all new South African TB cases arises in the mines, adding three-quarters of a million sufferers each year. It is estimated that every infected mine worker spreads the disease to 15 other people.
Although TB cost only $20 per person to treat, infection is often a death sentence for these people and their families.
Canada has long been a leader in battling TB by working with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, which has treated almost 10 million cases of TB.
March 24 is world TB day, and this year the Global Fund is set for replenishment. The federal government’s new direction in aid is to link it to mining development.
Here’s a chance for them to show true leadership in this regard and help South Africa’s mining industry rid itself of the plague of TB. This year, Canada must not only renew but increase our commitment to the Global fund.