Our work in Southern Africa

TB in the Mining Sector (TIMS) in Southern Africa

Mineworkers in Southern Africa have some of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB) in the world – and the highest of any working population. It is thought that between 3-7% of miners fall ill with TB each year. This is a human rights crisis with huge economic and welfare costs. Yet the extent and impact of the problem are poorly understood and little has been done to address it. This is why the World Bank and Global Fund are now leading the way with the multi-million dollar TB in the Mining Sector (TIMS) initiative in Southern Africa, which launched in November 2016.

This innovative programme is coordinating partners from national governments, civil society and the private sector to develop a multifaceted response to the problem, reaching across the region. TB Alert is providing technical advice to the programme, including to our partner ADDP Mozambique as they deliver community outreach in eight countries. With TB Alert’s guidance, outreach workers will visit individuals and communities with links to the mining industry to identify people who may be ill with TB and help them access healthcare services.

A perfect storm for TB

Miners encounter conditions that create a ‘perfect storm’ for TB. Mining companies often fail to provide equipment or put in place procedures to protect the health of miners. As a result, mineworkers have high rates of lung disease, particularly silicosis, that make them more vulnerable to TB. TB is also more easily spread in cramped mines and crowded worker’s barracks.

But this problem is not confined to mining areas. Mineworkers are often migrants who may work in numerous mines in many countries during their lifetime. As they return home, sometimes because they are incapacitated through illness, the impact of TB expands into remote towns and villages across the Southern Africa region. It is estimated that one-third of TB in Southern Africa can be linked back to the mining industry.

Mining data and finding cases

TB Alert’s expertise will contribute to the project’s aim to screen 300,000 people from mining communities across ten countries.

TB Alert is supporting the project in four ways:

  • providing technical assistance to ADPP’s project management team
  • training delivery teams in eight countries on community outreach and sputum collection
  • producing high-quality TB information and awareness resources
  • supporting the monitoring and evaluation of the programme to ensure it is effectively implemented