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Tracking and tracing of ex-mineworkers in five countries in the Southern African Region

Mineworkers in the Southern Africa sub-region have some of the highest TB incidence rates in the world compounded with other occupational diseases (silicosis, pneumoconiosis, etc) and occupational injuries leading to high morbidity, disability and death in this sub-population of vulnerable workers. Owing to the long latency of occupational diseases, mineworkers develop silicosis and other occupational lung diseases post-employment. In this regard, ex-mineworkers who worked in mines in South Africa are required to undergo medical examinations every two years under the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, No 78 of 1973 (ODMWA) and those with occupational diseases should be compensated unless you have been diagnosed with second degree silicosis. Migrant work has been a major feature of the mining sector with both internal migration (from labour sending areas within South Africa) and external migration (Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Botswana in the main but also involving other countries in the region).

Health Focus will manage a project to physically track and trace ex-mineworkers from South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana. Through discussions with the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD) and theCompensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases (CCOD), Health Focus has established that the initiatives to date include:

  • Support the development of an electronic interface for the field work data capture Supportthe functions of the Logistics Coordinating Centre (LCC) at the Department of MineralResources (DMR)
  • Developing linkages to other government departments, mining companies, trade unions,banks, Home Affairs, Social Security Agency (SASSA) etc.
  • Settting up of an inbound and outbound call centre, and
  • Outreach and awareness campaigns to enhance the electronic database and update the details of the claimants and collect missing documents from claimants.

However an additional step is the need to physically track and trace ex-mineworkers in villages and towns, update their biographic and demographic details, assist with filling in missing information inwork and medical records and raise awareness about further medical assessments (if needed) andprovide feedback to the ex-mineworkers, the MBOD/CCOD and development partners (World Bank).With this updated information the CCOD is committed to payments of the claimants and follow up ofthe ex-mineworkers for benefit medical examinations (where needed).

The tracking and tracing project, payments and medical assessments will make a substantial difference to many individual ex-mineworkers, their families and communities especially in the rural or labour sending areas of South Africa and the neighbouring countries.