SOUTH AFRICA LAUNCHES TB CRISIS PLAN

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The South African Ministry of Health has launched the TB Crisis Plan, an initiative that will work to combat the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in the country, which has the third-largest population of TB-infected people in the African continent.

"The plan that we have devised tackles some fundamental shortcomings in our TB control system that have undermined our best efforts to come to grips with this disease," said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. "At the same time, the plan allows us to prioritize some well-targeted, highly focused interventions that will achieve significant results within this year."

The plan will involve training local TB management teams at a provincial level and providing more TB medications to the most disease-prone provinces in the country -- Kwa-Zula Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng, which account for 80 percent of the country's TB cases. Expanding the budget for TB medications through foreign funding and private-sector contributions, added Tshabalala-Msimang, is also of primary concern.