South Africa. About 90 percent of occupation-related lung disease reported in South Africa occurs in the mining industry.This was confirmed by the National Health Department. TB rates are 10 times greater among miners than in the general population.
A report by the Aids Rights Alliance for Southern Africa concludes that mining companies and government health departments haven’t done everything they could.
The report’s author, Paula Akugizibwe said her findings are based on data collected at a seminar hosted by the alliance in May at which information was gathered from representatives of the mining industry, the Lesotho health ministry and international experts.
The government and the mining industry are not doing enough to help migrant labourers from Lesotho who have contracted tuberculosis while working on the mines.
Lesotho, which has the fourth-highest TB infection rate in the world, “contributes more than 50,000 migrant workers to the South African mining industry”, the report said.
“What we found at our meeting in May is that the responsibility for dealing with these sick persons lies with the mining companies first. They need to have a database to track down these people,” said Dr Lugemba Budiaki, of the Lesotho Health Ministry .
The National Union of Mineworkers says tracking immigrant workers is difficult and TB-awareness campaigns are expensive.
“For us to trace, or see if a particular mine worker has been provided with medication, is a bit of a challenge,” said Mziwakhe Nhlapo, who chairs NUM’s national Health and Safety unit.
In spite of logistical problems, NUM has developed a TB-awareness campaign that it hopes to introduce to all Southern African Development Community countries , Nhlapo said.
Source: The Times
By: Andrea Hart
Published:Jul 23, 2008