Better workplace Tuberculosis (TB) management can result in reduction in disability claims

25 March 2014 Graham Thomas, Liberty

TB is one of the leading causes of deaths in South Africa; in fact the disease is responsible for more than 10% of all deaths. The fight against TB is complicated by the massive HIV infection rate and the coexistence of the disease with HIV/ AIDS, with recent statistics from the Department of Health stating that 73% of TB patients are HIV positive.

According to Graham Thomas, Head of Capital Alliance Group Risk at Liberty Corporate, TB is a treatable disease, and the majority of patients who complete TB treatment respond well, experience few or no complications, and are able to live normal lives.
"This is influenced significantly by interventions such as TB management programmes that employers make available to employees. However, we are still paying out a significant number of disability claims due to TB and other respiratory diseases,” says Thomas.

With proper management, there are huge cost benefits to the members and these directly affect the premiums they pay. We have observed significant differences in claim rates of employers in the same sector, geography and with similar demographic profiles, attributable to workplace health interventions.

Early detection of TB is crucial, and therefore businesses need to take a proactive role in educating employees on how to prevent and recognise the symptoms and minimize the spread to other co-workers.

"Left unmanaged, the ripple effects are enormous as individuals with TB can be unproductive as a result of being sick and absent from work. This unplanned lack of productivity has a definite undesired effect on the overall economy,” concludes Thomas.

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