PRETORIA, South Africa will conduct a Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey to establish the true burden of the disease and ultimately strengthen TB control in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), South Africa ranks among the 22 high-burden countries which contribute to about 80 per cent of the total global burden of all TB cases.

The Human Sciences Research Council (HRSC), Medical Research Council (MRC), and National institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) will conduct the survey which will begin this month in eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

During the launch of the first National TB Prevalence Survey in 2016, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country would continue to mobilise more resources to fight the TB scourge by prioritising the detection and treatment of the disease.

The 2017 TB prevalence survey will be held nationally with a representative sample of approximately 55,000 adults identified, sampled from 110 population clusters, and will take about 24 months to complete.

The Department of Health said Tuesday it had planned various social mobilization activities in order to reach out to communities and to encourage them to participate in the survey. Clearly identifiable fieldworkers will be deployed into selected areas to interview and collect data, the department added.

According to the department, the nine provinces of South Africa have been divided into three, namely the “low” (Gauteng and Limpopo), “medium” (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State) and “high” (Northern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Eastern Cape), based on prior beliefs of estimates for TB prevalence of 178, 274 and 424 per 100,000 population, respectively.

The Department of Health has recorded successes in TB control, such as routine TB cases screening, the launch of a massive TB screening campaign, which has seen over 500 000 people screening, as well as scaling up rapid diagnostic technology (Xpert MTB/RIF) for improved diagnosis of TB.