Last week, 24-29 March, RESULTS joined its ACTION partners in leading an international parliamentary delegation to South Africa. Lord Norman Fowler, Nick Herbert MP, and US Congressman Jim McDermott saw how South Africa is emerging as a global leader in the fight against TB and HIV/AIDS.

The burden of these two diseases, and how closely linked they are, is as evident in South Africa as anywhere in the world. 65% of those with TB in South Africa are HIV positive, and the burden of TB in its gold mines is receiving increasing attention. In response, there is now political support at the highest levels to turn the corner. With support from the Global Fund and PEPFAR, combined with increased domestic investment, today two million South Africans have access to anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs).

World TB Day event at Poolsmoor Prison with Vice-President of South Africa and Minister of Health

Lord Fowler and Jim McDermott observed World TB Day at Poolsmoor Prison, which held Nelson Mandela for the last six years of his 27 in prison. South Africa’s political commitment to fighting TB was on display, with the Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, speaking passionately about the work being done to address TB in South Africa’s prisons and mines. He also presented 6 new Gene Xpert machines to the prison, so they can more effectively diagnose TB. The delegates were also able to meet with the Vice-President and Minister (pictured).

TB-HIV integrated clinic, Khayelitsha township

Today, the Ubuntu clinic is a model for others all around the world for how toeffectivelyintegrate TB and HIV services, offering testing, treatment, counselling. It allows patients to be seen for both diseases without have to refer them to another location, which only delays treatment even further. Lord Fowler and Mr Herbert enjoyed chatting with the clinic staff, learning about the treatment ‘clubs’, and seeing what integration looks like at the ground level. They also heard personal stories of MDR-TB and HIV more than any conference or briefing paper ever could.

TB and HIV vaccine research centres

Two visits saw how cutting edge research to develop new vaccines is ongoing in South Africa. At the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and the South Africa TB Vaccine Initiative, both operating at the heart of communities most at risk, the delegates learnt the vigors of vaccine research, and how these centres work with communities to carry out clinical trials and also provide other basic health services and education.