World Tuberculosis Day 2024

Marking World TB Day 2024 in South Africa

The results show that South Africa is fulfilling its objectives of lowering TB cases but not reducing TB fatalities

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, an estimated 55,000 individuals in South Africa died from tuberculosis (TB) in 2023, while around 280,000 were infected with the disease. 

As a member of the United Nations (UN), South Africa has committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of eradicating tuberculosis (TB) by 2030. To meet this goal, South Africa and other UN member nations have pledged to cut TB infections by 80% and fatalities by 90% by 2030, compared to 2015.


out of every 100,000 persons in South Africa became sick with tuberculosis in 2022.

South Africa has promised to reduce new tuberculosis incidence by 80% by 2030, compared to 2015.

According to WHO data, 280,000 persons in South Africa contracted tuberculosis in 2022, a decrease from 552,000 in 2015.

The number of tuberculosis cases per 100,000 persons has similarly declined. In 2022, 468 out of every 100,000 persons in South Africa became sick with tuberculosis, compared to 988 out of every 100,000 in 2015. This amounts to a 53% reduction in TB incidence between 2015 and 2030, which, compared to the WHO’s milestone objectives, puts the nation in a strong position to meet the SDG target of reducing TB incidence by 80% by 2030.

"Diagnosis remains the weakest part of TB care and treatment."

Dr. Ntombi Sigwebela

Regional Director of FIND

According to Dr. Ntombi Sigwebela, Regional Director of FIND: “An accurate and timely diagnosis of TB is the most effective tool for treating and avoiding drug-resistance situations caused by wrong or delayed diagnosis. South Africa’s first TB prevalence survey, released in 2021, discovered that of the 234 persons who tested positive for TB, more than half – approximately 58% – had abnormal X-rays without any TB symptoms, 35% had both abnormal X-rays and TB symptoms, and around 7% had only symptoms.”

Two approaches are being tested in South Africa to detect more individuals with tuberculosis faster

One is mobile X-ray screening; an X-ray indicative of tuberculosis still requires a confirming molecular test. The alternative option is to provide a yearly molecular TB test to persons who are regarded to be at high risk of TB, regardless of whether they have symptoms. Living with HIV, having had TB in the previous year, and having close contact with TB are all regarded as key risk factors for TB in this ‘targeted universal testing’ (TUT) strategy.


people died of TB in South Africa in 2022

TB remains a leading cause of death in the country. In 2022, 54,200 people died of TB in South Africa—or one person every 10 minutes. Between 2015 and 2022, the TB death rate in the country has fallen by only 17%. A further 73% reduction (from 2015 rates) must be achieved in the remaining seven years until 2030 for South Africa to meet global SDG targets.

Dr Sigwebela concludes: “Early and accurate diagnosis is a critical priority for containing the spread of TB.  Molecular diagnosis is one of the areas where South Africa outperforms most other high-TB-burden nations. Molecular testing on the GeneXpert platform began here a little more than a decade ago. While GeneXpert testing has been standard practice in South Africa for many years, access to molecular testing in various other countries remains limited. Furthermore, recently published drug-resistant tuberculosis recommendations indicate that South Africa will use new molecular tests capable of detecting a wider variety of drug resistance patterns once drug resistance has been found using the current molecular test.

Further scaling up digital X-ray screening is essential to expedite the process towards eliminating TB in South Africa. The use of community-based screening with chest X-rays, particularly in high-burden districts, using mobile or hand-held chest X-rays, can potentially detect prevalent TB, including infectious subclinical TB. FIND advocates for community-based diagnostic interventions. Digital chest X-ray implementation in community settings is a significant intervention to support TB case finding.”