National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says Members of Parliament must be at the forefront in fighting the TB scourge to save thousands of lives that needlessly and prematurely die each year in South Africa. Speaker Mbete made the passionate plea at the launch of a South African Chapter of Global TB Caucus for Parliamentarians at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday evening – 4 September 2018.
In line with the broader campaign of celebrating the Centenary of former President Mandela and MaSisulu, Speaker Mbete reminded delegates of Madiba's own conquering of TB while in custody. She said TB could have robbed the nation and the world of the icon of freedom, human rights and the causes of millions of vulnerable people whose contribution continues to be celebrated across the world.
Citing a famous quotation of Madiba on TB, Ms Mbete said 'TB knows no boundaries', as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mr Lechesa Tsenoli, current reigning Ms South Africa Tamareen Green as well as four medical doctors and TV personality Gerry Eldson were all survivors of TB. They all are now TB Ambassadors who graced the launch event together with celebrities who joined the campaign to fight the scourge that remains the biggest killer in South Africa over the past eight years.In 2009 TB killed over 70 000 people and through numerous interventions were reduced to over 33 000 in 2017.
Also addressing the launch event was the Minister of Health Dr Aron Motsoaledi, NCOP House Chairperson of Committees, Oversight and IGR Mr Jomo Nyambi who represented the NCOP Chairperson and SA TB Caucus Co-Patron Thandi Modise, World Health Organisation's Dr Brian Chirombo and Health Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Lindelwa Dunjwa.
The decision to launch the SA TB Caucus was taken at the Speakers' Forum led by Speaker Mbete and is expected to be rolled out to all provincial legislatures in due course.