Mandela’s health issues flashpoint for funding

Former South African leader's tuberculosis should inspire international funding for TB care and control

Nelson Mandela is in hospital with a recurring lung infection caused when he contracted tuberculosis in Pollsmoor Prison in 1988. It left an indelible imprint on him and he has relentlessly sought to increase awareness about the dangerous implications of TB. Nowhere are the themes of his life more applicable than in the fight against tuberculosis.

This deadly disease is still plaguing the world today with a staggering 1.4 million people globally succumbing to this killer annually and nearly nine million new cases detected yearly.

Mine workers in South Africa have the highest rate of TB in the world and an estimated one-third of TB infections in the southern African region are linked to mining activities. There is a deadly synergy with TB/HIV co-infection in the spread of TB in mining communities. People living with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop TB due to compromised immune systems.

About $1 billion per year of international fund­ing is needed for TB care and control. Let us honour this amazing humanitarian and his struggle and work and address this disease by increasing Canadian investment to the Global Fund when it is replenished this fall.

Anita Mark

Saanichton