KZN observe World TB Day with USAID

Speeches Shim

Friday, March 15, 2019
CG Zalika talking about TB in KwaZulu Natal
U.S. Consul General in KwaZulu Natal, Sherry Zalika Sykes delivering a message of support on behalf of the U.S. government

World TB Day Event – Durban, KZN

Unites States Consul General – Sherry Zalika Sykes

March 15, 2019

  • His Royal Highness Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu
  • Honorable Deputy President Mabuza
  • Honorable Minister Motsoaledi
  • MEC Dhlomo
  • KZN Premier / eThekwini Mayor
  • Traditional Leaders
  • TB Ambassadors
  • members of the media,
  • and distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Good morning/ Sanibonani and thank you for the opportunity to participate in today’s event. It is a great honor to be here on behalf of the United States Government to bring our message of support and hope about tuberculosis control- a key priority for us all.  For those who joined last year’s commemoration, you remember the theme called upon leaders to work towards a TB-free world. I was glad to be there with His Majesty, King Zwelithini to hear from Deputy President Mabuza, who acknowledged the essential role of traditional leaders in ending TB among their communities.

Last year’s theme was critical, especially in the light of the first-ever United Nations General Assembly High-Level meeting to end tuberculosis, held this past September.  We know TB is the leading cause of death among South Africans, and is inextricably linked to the HIV epidemic as well. TB and TB/HIV co-infection remain a priority focus for the U.S. Government.  We have partnered with the Government of South Africa through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, to support HIV and TB prevention and treatment and have invested more than 80 billion rand in South Africa since 2004. 

We’ve been proud to stand with South Africans in this effort to save and improve lives. We also support your National TB Control Program through PEPFAR and through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  We’re honored to be the largest donor to the Global Fund. In addition to PEPFAR and Global Fund investments, we’re also working closely with the National Department of Health and other local stakeholders through the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, on a nearly billion rand, five-year TB assistance project.

South Africa has led the world in the implementation of a wide range of innovative approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat the disease, from early adoption of the GeneXpert diagnostic platform, through its commitment to addressing TB among prisoners and miners, to ambulatory care of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients. In recent years, South Africa has been working very hard in TB care and treatment with high success rates of treatment to affected patients.  This has been achieved through simplified access to care and the variety of treatment regimens available to treat the various strains of TB.

Drug-resistant TB is of particular concern.  South Africa has very high numbers of drug-resistant TB cases, which are both difficult and very expensive to treat.  Many drug-resistant TB patients must undergo lengthy and painful treatments, often including long stays as in-patients in TB wards, and the treatment can leave them deaf. Southern African leaders have always played prominent roles in the fight against TB and TB/HIV.  In addition to such leaders who survived TB as Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, we are proud see the young prominent leaders today leading the fight against TB.

For example, Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu, medical doctors, and others who are serving as a national TB Ambassadors.  This shows that TB doesn’t discriminate. I’m proud that the United States has been a strong partner to South Africa in the fight against TB, and we will continue to partner because, despite great success, there is still much to do. With TB as the leading cause of death in South Africa, mobilizing leaders at national, provincial and community level is the key to promoting the uptake of health services among South Africans. Participation by leaders at various levels is critical.

With the type of community leadership and commitment we see today, we hope this drive will help find the missing cases of TB, expand screening, and help those who need it get proper treatment. The U.S. Government will continue its support for the South African Government’s health priorities, whether in TB or HIV to reach those in the highest burden areas of the country, with the greatest needs. Innovation is a hallmark of U.S. assistance in the health sector, and we’re pleased that joint U.S.-South African research is flourishing and driving innovation across the health sector. 

Our collaborative research programs address priority issues, from new TB drug regimens, to HIV vaccines, which have global implications. The political will and leadership demonstrated by today’s event underscore precisely what is required to help us:

  • reach every person with TB,
  • cure those in need of treatment, and
  • prevent new infections.

Once again, I applaud the Deputy President Mabuza, the National Minister of Health Motsoaledi, the leadership of KwaZulu Natal and the Royal Family for their commitment to the fight against TB, HIV and other related diseases.  We look forward to continuing to work in partnership -- to support your efforts to change the lives of millions of men, women, and children for the better. 

Thank you, Ngiyabonga! 

Inanda, KwaZulu Natal
Issuing Country