Departments clamp down on TB fraud

2009-09-19 15:20

THE departments of health and social development have stopped issuing temporary disability grants to people with curable TB because of growing abuse of the grants system by bogus TB patients.

In a statement posted on the government’s official website on Tuesday, national health spokesperson ­Fidel Hadebe says: “Previously, people who had TB would qualify for a social relief grant (disability 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.”

Hadebe said TB was curable and “not regarded as a disability”.

“It is only in multi-drug-resistant (MDR) and extremely drug-resistant (XDR) TB cases that an assessment will be made to determine a need for any form of social relief,” writes Hadebe in the posting.

The statement comes in the wake of a City Press investigation revealing that TB patients in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, were selling their sputum to people who then fraudulently applied for grants.

Efforts to contact Hadebe were unsuccessful. However, Western Cape social development department media liaison officer Danny Abrahams said he was unaware of any changes in the criteria for temporary disability grant applications.

Abrahams said even people with first-degree (least infectious) TB could obtain a temporary grant and

people with infectious but curable TB might not qualify for a grant.

Meanwhile, the departments of health and social development this week said they were ordering investigations into allegations of a TB grant fraud scam.

However, a speech delivered by then health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang during a TB blitz campaign in East London in 2006 indicates the government has been aware of TB patients selling their saliva for at least three years.

Tshabalala-Msimang is quoted in her speech, archived on www.gov.za, as saying: “Some are reportedly making money from selling sputum that is positive for TB. We cannot allow this abuse of resources to continue.” – West Cape News


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