The National Department of Health (NDoH) in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council (HRSC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) will initiate the 2017 TB Prevalence Survey to determine the true burden of the disease in the country.

Kicking off this month in eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, the survey will have a national focus with a representative sample of approximately 55,000 adults identified, sampled from 110 population clusters.

All residents selected from within the clusters will be eligible to participate in the survey if they are over 15 years of age, have slept in the house for at least 10 nights of the prior two weeks, and provide informed consent.

South Africa has one of the highest burden rates of TB in the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Africa ranks among the 22 high burden countries and contributes to about 80% of the total global burden of all TB cases.

According to the NDoH, the nine provinces have been divided into three zones depending on the estimated TB prevalence of 178,274 and 424 per 100,000, respectively. They are ‘low’ (Gauteng and Limpopo), ‘medium’ (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State) and ‘high’ (Northern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Eastern Cape). 

During the launch of the first National TB Prevalence Survey last year, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country will continue to mobilise more resources to fight TB by prioritising the detection and treatment of the disease.

As such, the NDoH said it has planned various social mobilisation activities intended to reach out to communities and encourage them to participate in the survey.

The NDoH added that clearly identifiable fieldworkers will be deployed into selected areas to interview and collect data.

The survey is expected to take about 24 months to complete.

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