Civil Society voice speaks loudly on World TB Day

On World TB Day the voices of patients, communities and civil society organisations carry the most inspiring messages of all.

Tuberculosis (TB) survivor, Phumeza Tisile, said: “I survived XDR-TB. It took me more than three years to get cured. I took 20 tablets a day, injections every day for six months. The medication made me deaf. I had to drop out of university. Drug-resistant TB is hard to treat, but it is curable.  I can hear now, with cochlear implants. And I am going to study at the University of Cape Town.”

All across the globe civil society activities of all sizes and shape are taking place looking to accelerate the progress of the fight against TB, and to increase the political and social commitment needed.

More than 20 TB survivors met with leaders on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, to share their experiences with those who have responsibility for determining the US government’s response to TB both in the U.S. and worldwide.

The meetings in the U.S. capitol marked World TB Day and included briefings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The testimonies brought home to policymakers the devastating and stigmatising reality of this disease. One of the survivors was a five-year old survivor of drug-resistant TB, who had prepared her own impassioned speech about the personal importance of tacking the disease.

Following the World Health Organization’s omission of TB from its ‘priority pathogens list’, community-based activist organisation, Treatment Action Group (TAG) has rallied hundreds of organisations and individuals to sign a letter addressed to G20 leaders calling for TB to be a focus of forthcoming talks on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) (PDF 84 KB), to be held in Berlin this July. The letter states that it is critical the scale of the TB epidemic in G20 countries is recognised in the G20 summit’s discussion of AMR.

At an event in Rio de Janeiro City, Brasil, former and current patients will gather in front of "Museu do Amanhã" (Tomorrow's museum, a symbol of the renewal of the City for the Olympic Games) to combat the stigma of TB. They will perform a dance called "Tuberculosis Funk", created by a former community health worker, and distribute leaflets to inform people about a new simple TB test.

Kenya's theme for World TB Day 2017 is Mulika TB! Maliza TB! with the slogan Unite to End TB for a TB Free Generation. The aim is to unite efforts to reach those at high risk of contracting TB, and to identify and implement innovative strategies to improve TB testing and treatment. The Ministry of Health through the National TB Programme will publish a report from the Kenya TB Prevalence Survey 2016. The TB prevalence survey assesses the burden of TB in Kenya, and is the first to be conducted in Kenya since independence.

In Johannesburg, South African civil society organisations are holding an event to raise TB awareness at a busy taxi rank, which is located beside a hospital, shops, and across the road from an informal settlement.  The event will share information about HIV and TB and provide HIV testing and TB screening.

In Lagos, Nigeria, the organisation Brook Cherith Support is sharing a range of video clips and poster, as part of an online advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the problems TB is causing in Nigeria.

TB Photovoice remind us all of the individuals who are affected by TB, with a new powerful and inspiring story posted every day on their Facebook page throughout March.