Zimbabwe premiere for new film to raise awareness and challenge TB stigma

A new feature film, The Lucky Specials, which aims to demystify tuberculosis (TB) and educate diverse audiences about the disease through music and entertainment, will premiere today in Harare, Zimbabwe.  

The Lucky Specials will play an important role in changing attitudes and behaviours around TB,” said Dr. Christopher Zishiri, Director of The Union’s Zimbabwe office. 

“Together with the National TB Control Programme and USAID, we have made TB testing and treatment available throughout the country so that everyone can access the services.”

The film is set in Southern Africa to draw attention to the issue of TB in the region, where a third of the world’s countries with the highest burden of TB are situated, including Zimbabwe. The Union is actively addressing this epidemic and over the last nine years has worked with the National TB Control Programme to strengthen TB control in Zimbabwe. Current interventions include enhancing access to quality patient-centred care for TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB services; prevention of transmission and disease progression through active case finding; and strengthening TB platforms including political commitment to end TB.

An advance screening of the film took place at the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool, last year, as part of an event organised by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This event included a panel discussion on the importance of media in the fight against TB and how formats like film can be used to reach wide audiences, convey powerful messages and challenge stigma. The Lucky Specials plans to do all of this and to therefore draw more people in to seeking diagnosis and treatment.

The film has been produced by Discovery Learning Alliance and Quizzical Pictures in association with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, with support from the Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and USAID and PEPFAR through MSH.

“The United States is proud to partner with Zimbabwe to reach large audiences with lifesaving information about TB, how it is spread, and how it is treated and cured,” said U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr.  “This movie will entertain, but it will also dismantle dangerous misconceptions and break down some of the walls built up by stigma and discrimination.”

Nearly 200 stakeholders are expected to attend the film’s premiere event at Ster-Kinekor Movie Theatre in Harare, including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s NTP programme, the US Government, the World Health Organization, civil society organisations and from communities of People living with HIV and those affected by TB.

Watch the trailer: