Authors: Rees D, Murray J, Nelson G & Sonnenberg P
Source: American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2009
The men from rural areas of South Africa and neighboring countries who come to seek work in the gold mines are not immigrants in the usual sense, as they work for periods in the mines, go home, and then return to the mines. This oscillating or circular migration has resulted in the serious interrelated epidemics of silicosis, tuberculosis, and HIV infection that we have in the gold mining industry today. This paper discusses the role of oscillating migration in fuelling these epidemics, by examining the historical, political, social, and economic contexts of these diseases.
The impact of silicosis, tuberculosis, and HIV infection extends beyond individual miners to their families and communities. The migrant labor system contributed to the epidemics seen in southern Africa today.
Failure to control dust and tuberculosis has resulted in serious consequences decades later. The economic and political migrant labor system provided the foundations for the epidemics seen in southern Africa today.