He Looks At Tuberculosis Death Toll And Wonders Why You’re Not Worried

Aaron Motsoaledi is tired of delivering the same spiel over and over again.

No matter how many times the charismatic health minister of South Africa speaks out, people don’t seem to grasp the threat presented by tuberculosis, now the No. 1 infectious killer in the world.

“People think it’s a curable disease that’s been there for ages, so what’s new? I think that’s the mentality,” Dr. Motsoaledi told The Huffington Post.

As chair of the Stop TB Partnership, a group of public and private leaders hosted through the United Nations Office for Project Service, he has seen the eyes of bureaucrats around the world glaze over when he brings up TB. And yet 4,100 people die every day from the disease.

His own country is one of the hardest hit. Motsoaledi has pushed to organize a comprehensive TB strategy for South Africa and its neighbors. In South Africa, they’ve targeted those who work in the country’s mines and inhabit its prisons, two communities where TB rates are particularly high.

Death by tuberculosis, he said, “happens very slowly, maybe in a corner somewhere, in an isolated hospital ward, with nobody watching, so it doesn’t evoke any emotion. Maybe that’s what’s at play around the entire world.”

HuffPost spoke with Motsoaledi about the growing threat of tuberculosis ahead of World TB Day on Thursday.

In your own words, what is the TB global health crisis?

It’s growing, even though we’ve made inroads since 1990. But the fact that TB has been there for the past 200 years — I’ll say we went into some form of relaxation and started relaxing and believing that this is a disease for which you have got a cure.

Now the biggest problem we are having is that, unlike HIV and AIDS, unlike Ebola, unlike Zika, TB doesn’t seem to be —> Read More