Reducing the spread of TB

Since March is Tuberculosis (TB) Awareness Month, the ‘Haybo Wena! (Hey You!) Use Your Elbow’, initiative has been launched to help educate people about the prevention of airborne TB germ transmissions by using your elbow when you cough.

TB remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer with South Africa reporting one of the highest infection rates in the world. It is spread by breathing in airborne bacteria from people with active infectious TB disease and is preventable.

Quick facts about TB

  • TB (tuberculosisis) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affects the lungs
  • TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. Another person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected
  • Tuberculosis is curable and preventable
  • South Africa has one of the highest reported TB infection rates in the world.
  • According to the World Health Organisation, TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the killer of the most people worldwide

Haybo Wena campaign

The Haybo Wena campaign is a project realised by Good Business and Saatchi & Saatchi SA, with the support of a grant to Good Business from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These three organisations care greatly about the health and well-being of the South African public.

“We needed to find a way to engage the public in a fun and light-hearted way in order to encourage them to call out others, when they see someone coughing, to use their elbow rather than their hands,” this according to Michael Joubert, Chairman of South African Family Health Association.

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Joubert explains: “Haybo Wena! (Hey You!) Use Your Elbow! is the phrase we have adopted for the initiative. TB is preventable and by getting people to change their behavior with a simple action like using their elbow [instead of] their hand, [it] will assist in curbing the spread of this deadly disease and ultimately empower the public to speak out.”

“TB germs can survive for up to 24 hours on hard surfaces and are spread through the air when someone who is sick with TB coughs or sneezes,” he adds. “With South Africans commuting in confined spaces and living in cramped housing facilities the disease is rife, and a change in behaviour through education and empowerment is key to breaking the cycle.”

The campaign encourages people to:

  1. Uma ubona ekhwehlela, (If you see someone coughing)
  2. Haybo Wena, (call out to them – say, ‘Hey You!’)
  3. sebenzisa indololwane! (use your elbow!)

“We are already seeing positive results and we look forward to continue building the campaign and growing the footprint of access to the information in the future,” he adds.

Listen and download the song free here: and watch the music video below …


While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.