Lack of food security has been highlighted as a serious issue when looking at how illnesses such as tuberculosis (TB) are treated.
This was revealed yesterday at the commemoration of World TB Day in Duncan Village.
Speaking at the event yesterday, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle said many people in the Eastern Cape had TB and as such, part of government’s plan was to ensure adequate food security in communities.
He said the fight against TB needed a “multi-sectorial” approach.
“TB is still killing a lot of our people even though it it curable.
“We have realised that part of the fight is also ensuring food secure for communities,” he said.
Rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, who not only preaches food security as the political head of the department but also does it on his personal Facebook page, said his department wanted to encourage people to grow their own vegetables.
“As government we want to ensure that while people get their medication from hospital they also supplement it with good nutrition, which includes fresh vegetables that they grow themselves.
“As a department we will be providing seedlings in an effort to get the process going,” he said.
Other dignitaries at the event included health MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi and Buffalo City Metro executive mayor Xola Pakati.
World TB Day is commemorated on March 24 every year and the provincial leg of the commemoration was held yesterday.
The day is designed to build public awareness since TB remains an epidemic in much of the world and causes the deaths of nearly 1.5 million people each year, mostly in developing countries.
Dyantyi said her department was aware of the challenges faced by poverty-stricken communities such as Duncan Village.
“We tell our people what signs to look out for. We further know that in congested areas like this, it is easy for TB to spread,” she said.
Dyantyi further added: “The Eastern Cape also has a problem of co-infections of TB and HIV. In BCM this is above 70%. This means people’s immune systems are compromised and they can’t fight TB.
“However, I am pleased to say that we have a success of 50% in the fight against extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).”
Pakati said the city was pleased to be hosting the event.
“We are working with several government departments because we are aware there are structural challenges that lead to the vulnerability of our communities,” he said.