Dept warns against buying TB saliva

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Health has warned people who buy saliva from Tuberculosis-infected people that there is no automatic financial benefit for having TB.

"Previously, people who had TB would qualify for a social relief grant, but based on the abuse of the policy, the Department of Health agreed with the Department of Social Development to stop issuing such grants a few years ago," Health spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said on Tuesday.

The warning follows recent media reports that people were buying TB-infected sputum from patients so they could benefit from the grant.

According to the reports, a person who has been diagnosed with TB would sell their sputum to the other person so that the latter can take it to a clinic or hospital under false pretence with a view to qualifying for a "disability grant".

The department appealed to people who are involved in this unlawful and immoral practice to desist from doing so as it inherently distorted the real TB situation in the country and undermined efforts in the fight against the disease.

Hadebe stressed that as the policy stands at the moment, TB is not regarded as a disability, but rather a curable disease.

"It is only in the Multi-Drug Resistant and Extreme-Drug Resistant TB cases that an assessment would be made to determine a need for any form of social relief based on an individual's circumstances," explained Hadebe.

The department also appealed to health care workers to be vigilant when supervising the collection of sputum so that any wrongdoing in TB testing and treatment can be corrected.