BARCELONA, Spain — “It seems as if we have grown accustomed to TB and ready to accept that human suffering associated with it,” remarked Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, minister of health for South Africa during a plenary talk at the World Conference on Lung Health on Wednesday. Dr. Motsoaledi wears another important hat these days in addition to his lead role in South Africa’s response to its HIV epidemic — the largest in the world and its TB response with its ranking in the top ten countries with the largest TB burden. Motsoaledi also is the new co-chair of the STOP TB partnership which extends his leadership on tuberculosis and TB/HIV co-infection to the world.
He noted that with current progress in TB control worldwide — a 1.5 percent case reduction per year, it would take 200 years to eliminate tuberculosis an an infectious disease threat, and the oldest one at that. He challenged his audience to do “what we know will work, and scale up interventions to miners, prisoners, children, and the integration of HIV and TB responses.”
Motsoaledi warned that “we cannot be on social determinants of health and referencing the new UNAIDS targets — 90-90-90– for 90 percent tested, 90 percent treated and 90 percent virally suppressed and posed this question: “Can we aim to screen 90 percent of vulnerable groups, test 90 percent of those suspected of having TB, treat 90 percent of those with tuberculosis within 2 days, and obtain cure for 90 percent?”