Tuberculosis in South Africa: An Analysis of Socio-Economic Factors


  • Rachel Lynn Warren McMaster University



Tuberculosis has historically thrived in some of the most impoverished and marginalized populations; however, research into why lower socio-economic populations are at a higher risk of contracting diseases remains to be a topic lacking exploration. This is becoming a more prevalent issue as multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively-drug resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB) are on the rise in individuals living in poverty. The main research question that will be addressed in this paper is: How do socio-economic inequalities play a role in rising incidence rates of Tuberculosis in South Africa, and what are the future challenges in dealing with MDR-TB and XDR-TB? South Africa is a particularly important country of focus because of the racial inequity that has resulted in economic disparity, and a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line. Reviews of existing literature on Tuberculosis and correlations to poverty will be critically analyzed and applied, as well as the use of government documents, including Statistics South Africa, and the World Health Organization. A cross-cultural comparison of Canada and South Africa will be included to highlight the long-term effects of marginalization societal stratification. The health care policies dealing with treatment will also be discussed, with a specific focus on social epidemiology. This paper will argue that long-term racial inequalities in South Africa has result in economic disparity, through which Black Africans and people of Colour are more susceptible to contracting TB, MDR-TB, and insufficient health resources to support them.