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Articles: Is TB increasing in the workplace?
Is TB increasing in the workplace?

Yes, TB is increasing globally and more specifically in developing countries. The Western Cape was dubbed as the TB capital prior to the advent of HIV. Now with the era of HIV, TB is out of control. The World Health Organization has stated that HIV as the biggest activator of TB and declared TB as a Global Public Health Emergency in 1993, followed by the Western Cape which declared TB as a Provincial Emergency in 1996. The other provinces in South Africa are not far behind. These are all clear indicators that TB is on the increase and the workplace is no exception, especially among the unskilled and semi-skilled workers, which in many cases are food handlers. Full Article

What legislation is there that protects the worker or the employer?

TB is treatable, curable and preventable, and testing and treatment is free. Anyone that has been diagnosed with TB at work cannot be dismissed or discriminated against. Any person that is diagnosed with TB or HIV is protected and hence have the same rights as other employees.

What can an employer do?

It is advisable to conduct TB/HIV/AIDS workshops at the workplace to make workers aware of TB/HIV/AIDS, where workers would be able to detect signs and symptoms of TB and seek early treatment. Anyone that has been diagnosed with active TB and is on treatment is not infectious. However, there is a law that if anyone that refuses to take their TB medication, can be detained and be forced by law to take their medication. Treatment and medication must be taken for 6 months. Many patients, because they feel better, stop taking their medication after the second month and could become infectious. Hence it is recommended and advisable to have a DOTS Supporter at work (a trained Factory Nurse, Supervisor, Shop Steward, etc) to ensure workers with TB, take their full medication for a period of 6 months.

Are any information pamphlets available?

Information literature is available from the Department of Health.
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