Managing TB

Tuberculosis TB is especially a concern in Africa and it will only get worse as the AIDS epidemic spreads. Businesses in Africa have been at the forefront of managing AIDS in the workplace. It makes sense to include TB in these programmes, particularly in countries with high rates of TB.

m-tuberculosisAccording to the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Initiative, TB ranks as one of the world’s most lethal but also most treatable infectious diseases in adults. Better still, when properly given, treatment means cure. Yet, two million people die each year from TB – 5,000 to 6,000 people a day.

Three quarters of these are men and women between the ages of 15 and 54 – people in the most productive age group. This results in significant economic consequences:

For businesses. In high prevalence settings, many workers are vulnerable to TB. A sick worker means disrupted workflow, reduced productivity, weeks or months of absenteeism and, potentially, the direct costs of treatment. In Uganda, 80% of wage earners stopped working due to TB with the average time lost from normal activities being 9.5 months. All this can add up to substantial costs to companies.

  • For businesses and communities. In highprevalence settings, TB is a major contributor to ill health and poverty in a community. The success of a business is closely linked to the health and prosperity of the community. The community is a source of workers, services, contractors and business; it is a key part of the overall business environment.
  • For businesses, communities and countries. The macroeconomic impact of TB should be considered not only in terms of how it affects a country’s per capita GNP, but also in how the disease affects the lifespan and lifetime earnings lost by society. For example, on the global level, TB leads to a decline in worker productivity to the order of US$ 12 billion annually.

The workplace

The workplace is a win-win setting for TB management – for both the worker and the company. For the worker, the workplace is a convenient location to gain awareness and receive treatment for TB. For companies, TB management can save costs by reducing absenteeism and staff turnover – through prompt diagnosis and effective treatment – and by reducing transmission to other workers with attendant costs.

Cost saving at the workplace is not the only reason for starting a workplace programme. As part of corporate responsibility programmes, many businesses have a broad commitment to improving the well-being of then community. Where TB prevalence is high, TB management at the workplace is an opportunity for businesses to concretely demonstrate their social commitment, as showing that they are concerned for their well-being, as part of a ‘local licence to operate’.


ILO and WHO guidelines outline how any business, large or small, can contribute in some way to the management of TB. They draw on the practical experience of companies and the technical expertise of WHO and the ILO to provide everything that is necessary to develop and run technically sound TB management at the workplace – from education and prevention through to treatment and care. They cover when to start, what resources are available, and how to manage, track and report results successfully.

Click here to access the guidelines:


World Economic Forum’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) and the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership launched a new toolkit that aims in June 2008 to boost the involvement of South African companies in tackling the TB crisis. The announcement comes as South Africa faces an emerging threat of TB/HIV co-infections and fatal drug-resistant strains of the disease.

Click here for a summary of the toolkit:

The Stop TB Partnership

The Stop TB Partnership was established in 2000 to realise the goal of eliminating TB as a public health problem and, ultimately, to obtain a world free of TB. It comprises a network of international organisations, countries, donors from the public and private sectors, governmental and nongovernmental organisations and individuals that have expressed an interest in working together to achieve this goal.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a dual role in the Stop TB Partnership. As a leading agency in the partnership, WHO provides guidance on global policy and has permanent representation in the Stop TB Coordinating Board. WHO is also the housing institution of the Stop TB Partnership Secretariat, which benefits from the mechanisms of WHO. The secretariat follows the rules and regulations of WHO for its administrative, financial and human resources management, subject, if necessary, to the adaptations which might be required in order to meet the particular needs of the Stop TB Partnership.

The original Stop TB Initiative has evolved into a broad Global Partnership to Stop TB. The Partnership involves all those organizations and individuals committed to short- and long-term measures required to control and eventually eliminate TB as a global public health problem. Partners have coalesced into Working Groups to accelerate progress in seven specific areas: DOTS Expansion, TB/HIV, MDR-TB, New TB Drugs, New TB Vaccines, New TB Diagnostics, and Advocacy, Communications and Social Mobilization.

Click here for key documents:


The World Health Organisation publishes research each year: “Global tuberculosis control – surveillance, planning, financing”.

Click here to access the Research section which lists all reports:

Useful links

Aurum Institute
The Global Fund
Stop TB

Global Business Coalition



Click here to view the GBC Increasing Corporate Engagement on Tuberculosis Workshop #3: Working with SMEs & Expanding Workplace Programmes (15 October 2009):GBC Report 117.81 Kb

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