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NUM to help fight TB in the mining industry

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Press Statement: 25 March 2014

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) fully support the Regional Ministerial Meeting on harmonizing the response to TB in the Mining Industry in South Africa which is convened by our government  and supported by the World Bank, the Stop TB Parnership, and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The event that is taking place today at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg will discuss a standardized approach to the management of TB in the minining industry which is 10 times the level the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies as an emergency.

The NUM delegation will be led by its Deputy President Piet Matosa at the meeting. 

NUM Health and Safety Secretary Erick Gcilitshana will deliver the speech on behalf of the union.

As the NUM we believe that the reason why mineworkers are vulnerable to TB is their exposure to multiple risk factors as a result of their jobs, their living conditions, and their migrant lifestyles. Prolonged exposure to silica dust in often poorly ventilated deep mine shafts can cause silicosis, which increases the risk of pulmonary tuberculosis. Crowded dormitory-style living conditions and poor housing in informal settlements increase the risk of contracting the airborne disease. High rates of HIV also increase the likelihood of TB infection. And regular movements across borders provide a route for transmission of infections to families and communities in the workers’ home.

The mining industry in South Africa is heavily dependent on labour migrants from rural areas and surrounding countries migrating annually between South African mines and Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. The  migratory movement of mineworkers, across provincial and national borders, extends the high risk of contracting TB and Multi Drug Resistant-TB to communities surrounding mines and to the communities from which the workers originate and to which they return. 

"We appreciate and support the call for this regional meeting by our government to fight TB. We have noted a number of challenges experienced by current and ex-mineworkers their families, as well as communities affected by  migration, which need to be urgently addressed. All  the stakeholders must be able to come up with concrete solutions to help bring down the high rate of TB in the mining industry. This should not be a talk show. It should come up tangible solutions that everybody will be able to commit and implement. The meeting should  also come up with solutions  for the ex-miners so that they can get access to treatment and those who are ripped off by service providers can be assisted by our government without cost. As the NUM we are ready to work with our government and  other stakeholders to find solutions," said NUM Health and Safety Secretary Erick Gcilitshana.

The NUM is also worried that there is inadequate financial compensation of mineworkers and ex-mineworkers with TB, silicosis and other occupational respiratory diseases.

For more information, Please contact

Livhuwani Mammburu: 083 809 3257 (Acting  NUM National Secretary spokesman)
Erick Gcilitshana-(NUM Health and Safety Secretary) 082 809 3105
Frans Baleni- (NUM General Secretary) 082 375 6443

National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street
Cnr Frederick

Twitter: @Num_Media

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