An abandoned hospital in El Geneina, West Darfur

Health department of South Africa expressed concern over "unacceptable" death rate among Tuberculosis (TB) patients, adding the disease remained a huge concern for South Africa as well as BRICS member countries and other nations.

During a speech at the opening day of the BRICS TB Research Network Innovation Summit in Durban on Monday, Deputy Minister of Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said about 300,000 people were estimated to get infected by TB every year in the country, adding that last year the number was 224,000.

"Although our infection incidence is declining, we are concerned about the unacceptable death rate among our TB patients," he added, SA News reported.

The minister said that the major cause of TB infection was Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), adding that 48% of TB patients were living with HIV in 2022.

BRICS member countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- started the BRICS TB Research Network in 2017 to bring experts together to exchange information and create solutions.

"The ultimate goal of this endeavor was to establish collaborative research programs aimed at developing new diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines for TB," Dhlomo added.

The minister noted that South Africa developed a TB Recovery Plan after the COVID-19 pandemic to find and treat TB patients, and added country's antiretroviral program has led to a decrease in TB incidence.

"South Africa has made significant progress toward the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets that by 2025, 95% of all people living with HIV to be aware of their HIV status, 95% of those aware of their status to be on antiretroviral treatment, and 95% of those on antiretroviral treatment who also know that that they are living with HIV to achieve viral load suppression," he added.

Dhlomo recalled the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB held in New York in September and noted that it was essential to meet the targets that were set, including the creation of innovations in therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines alongside collaboration, investment and development.

"A world without TB is not just an aspiration but an attainable reality, and we should stand ready to play our part in making that vision a shared triumph," the minister added. "The goal to end TB is within our grasp. Our collective efforts must transcend borders, ideologies, and individual interests."