Engaging workplaces in TB care and control
With 1.7 million deaths per year, tuberculosis (TB) remains a top killer infectious disease in the world. Nearly 75% of those affected by TB are adult men and women in their productive years of life. Workplaces can increase disease transmission, as people spend long periods of time there in close proximity. At particular high risk are workers of mining companies and those working in poor conditions in the informal sector. According to the 2008 ILO Global Employment Trends Report, there are currently 3 billion people in the world of work. Of these, nearly 1.3 billion do not earn enough to lift themselves out of poverty. It is often these poor workers and their families who get stuck in the vicious web of tuberculosis (TB), HIV and other diseases. Studies suggest that on average, an employee with TB loses 3-4 months of work per year, resulting in potential losses of 20-30% of his annual household income. In addition, a lot of the barriers to accessing TB and HIV associated services are linked to work-related concerns such as loss of wages or job discrimination. Addressing TB and TB/HIV in the workplace can help overcome these barriers and also provide access to essential services to those in need as well as the general population.
On a practical note for businesses- tackling TB and HIV in the workplace can have a direct beneficial effect on company productivity and costs, especially in high prevalence areas. Globally, TB is known to cause a decline in worker productivity to the order of US$ 13 billion every year. In India alone, TB causes a loss of 100 million workdays per year, this adds up to substantial costs for companies.