COMMUNITY leaders from all sectors have been urged to join the campaign to find “missing TB cases” as the disease remains the leading killer in South Africa despite it being curable.This was the message at the World TB Day Commemorations held in Humansdorp on Tuesday.Hundreds filled the Kruisfontein Civic Centre to listen to Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle, Health MEC Phumza Dyantyi, other government leaders and stakeholder groups presenting on the crisis of the disease and strategies to fight it. The theme of the event was: Leadership Taking Responsibility in Finding Missing TB Cases.Masualle said the National Department of Health estimated that there were 137 000 missing TB cases in the country, with 31 000 of these found in the Eastern Cape. “These ‘missing cases’ are those who default on their treatment. Our reason for coming here was to look for and understand the reasons for the high default rate in this area.“It takes a community to lead the fight and the ultimate defeat of TB. We should care for each other in our neighbourhoods,” he said.Masualle said statistics still showed that TB accounted for about 4500 deaths a day in the country and this was shocking considering the disease was treatable and curable.“We have come to the conclusion that this dichotomy may be caused by a lack of knowledge and the infected or affected not taking responsibility. Efforts must be made to take the message to schools, churches and all places of gathering,” he said.The Premier said treatment defaulters were noticeably high among seasonal farm workers as they have left their places of permanent residence and are usually far away from healthcare centres during work periods.Kouga has the highest defaulter rate in its sub-district, which includes Koukamma and Sundays River Valley, with a 14.5% treatment defaulter rate.The Kruisfontein Clinic was leading in Kouga with a staggering 21% defaulter rate.Dyantyi agreed with Masualle that people shouldn’t be dying of TB and said her department had introduced various strategies aimed at increasing the reach to their clients and the results of the efforts were evident.“The impact of this disease and other communicable diseases such as HIV and Aids to society has compelled the department to make concerted efforts to reduce the alarming levels of disease burden, so that we can ultimately free our society from all these diseases,” she said. Dyantyi added that the department was working with farmers in the Sarah Baartman District to reach out to workers and farming communities. Kouga Tourism and Special Programmes Portfolio Councillor Frances Baxter said the municipality was committed to working with the department and other stakeholders to spread the message and help combat the di-sease.