24 March 2016 is World Tuberculosis (TB) awareness day. The aim is to educate people about this disease, and banish all stigmas around it. TB is the cause of thousands of deaths in South Africa and around the world.
By: Keletso Modisakeng
A new initiative – Haybo Wena! Use Your Elbow – has been launched to drive the prevention of airborne TB germ transmissions by using your elbow when you cough. “We needed to find a way to engage the public in a fun and light-hearted way. This is to encourage them to call out others when they see them coughing to use their elbow rather than their hands,” according to Michael Joubert, chairman of the South African Family Health Association (the largest health NGO in SA).
- TB is a top infectious killer disease worldwide.
- It is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that affect the lungs. It is curable and preventable.
- TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
- South Africa has one of the highest reported TB infection rates in the world.
- According to the World Health Organisation, TB follows HIV/Aids as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent.
- TB is the leading infectious killer of youths and adults.