Zulu king concerned about killer TB strains, Aids and orphans

Canaan Mdletshe

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini is concerned about the number of his people dying from multidrug-resistant (MDRTB) and extreme drug-resistant (XDRTB) tuberculosis and Aids.

Speaking to a team of Canadian doctors yesterday at his Enyonkeni palace at KwaNongoma, north of Zululand, the king said that TB and Aids were ravaging his people.

"We are in crisis. Aids has killed many people, so has MDRTB and XDRTB. The tragedy is escalating and has left many children without parents. I'm deeply concerned," said the king.

Zwelithini described MDRTB and XDRTB as diseases akin to the Ebola virus that had left scores of people dead in Africa.

During World TB Day last month, Neliswa Nkonyeni the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health, announced that multidrug-resistant TB had killed 126 people, while extreme drug resistant TB had claimed 184 lives in the province.

Zwelithini said unemployment was a major cause of Aids in the rural areas.

He said this had put the government under enormous pressure. The king appealed to everyone to help turn the tragedy around.

"We need to pull together as nations of the world if we are to win this battle.

"People need to be educated so that they can find jobs to fight poverty and fight this disease.

"We can only reduce poverty by being creative and providing rural men and women with opportunities to use the land and to use the plough. This is the only way I think we will be able to survive this scourge," he said.

Pat Francis, of Pat Francis Ministries in Canada, said if people exercised their moral values the number of new HIV infections would decrease. She said it was time that people from Africa went back to their African values.

The Canadian team of doctors are going to the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan to offer medical assistance and other forms of aid.