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23 March 2021

South Africa: First Ever National Survey Shows the Extent of South Africa’s TB Problem


TB prevalence surveys are difficult and expensive to do, and so are not carried out routinely, but have been done in many high burden countries following a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation in 2007. In the absence of prevalence survey data, TB estimates are based on the reported numbers of people treated for TB, adjusted to take account of the estimated number of people who have TB but don’t access treatment.

The survey was conducted between 2017 and 2019 by the South African Medical Research Council, Human Sciences Research Council and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on behalf of the Department of Health. South Africa, along with other countries, routinely reports to the WHO the number of people who attend clinics and start TB treatment. But this regularly reported number misses many other people who have TB.

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