Trainees from nine countries complete Paris advocacy program
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 16) – ACTION, in a bid to end one of the world’s oldest and most infectious diseases, hosted its latest media champion training for tuberculosis (TB) survivors, advocates, and researchers in Paris, France, February 1 – 4. Accommodating 10 participants from 9 countries, the training, in its 11th year, sought to deepen and broaden the advocacy group’s effort to promote investment in TB research and treatment, and ultimately, to help eliminate the disease by 2030, the goal set by the World Health Organization.
This year’s trainees included: Ukrainian Yuliya Chorna; Panamanian Enrique Delgado; Peruvian Carolina Moran; Kenyans Sara Mulera and Timpiyian Leseni; Nigerian Tanwa Ogoh; South African Ingrid Oxley; Indian Nandita Venkatesan; Indonesian Ari Probandari, MD; and Papua New Guinean Joyce Christine Sauk, MD. Suzanne Yates, a former broadcaster and trainer with the British Broadcasting Corporation, was the lead facilitator.
Yuliya Chorna (right) practices her radio interview skills with Mandy Slutsker (left). Photo credit: ACTION/Ingrid Oxley
"One reason TB doesn’t get the profile it deserves is the failure to communicate the seriousness of the disease and the importance of investing in solutions to fight it," said Mandy Slutsker, ACTION secretariat policy and advocacy manager. "ACTION’s training program is important because it helps participants develop the effective messaging needed to engage media and gain the political will necessary to combat this ancient infection."
Trainees hailed the program as transformational, and highly useful in helping them become better speakers and advocates. "It was well-balanced in terms of process and results. The program was intense, but we also had a lot of opportunities to have time for network building," said Chorna, TB advocacy project manager at Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine.
Chorna, Moran, and Probandari are professionals working in TB care or research; Sauk is a medical doctor who contracted TB as a medical student working in the emergency room; Ogoh is a nursing student from Nigeria who developed TB while living in the United States; Mulera became an anti-TB advocate after her friend passed away from the disease, and she took in her three children to join her and two biological children in her one-room house; Leseni is a survivor of zoonotic TB — transmitted through unpasteurized milk or other animal products; Oxley is a dietitian and TB survivor whose illness was so grave at one time, her family gathered at her bedside to say goodbye; Delgado spent seven years wandering the Americas and Europe looking for effective treatment before he was finally cured of TB; and Venkatesan contracted the disease as a 17 year-old university student and lost her hearing at age 24 — a painful side effect of one of the TB drugs.
The media champion training started as a RESULTS Educational Fund program designed to build a cadre of TB advocates at a local, national, and global settings. Trainings have prepared activists across ACTION issue areas to become even stronger, more visible spokespeople. Beyond activists and patient advocates, past trainings have also targeted high-level decision makers like ministers of health, heads of agencies/organizations, patient advocates, researchers, high-profile personalities, medical professionals, and our very own staff/directors/volunteers. Over the past decade, ACTION has trained 115 champions with media and advocacy skills from 28 countries in issues such as vaccines; nutrition; and TB and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
ACTION is a partnership of 12 locally rooted organizations around the world that advocate together to build political will and increase investments for global health. Our partners: Æquitas (India),?CITAM+ (Zambia),?Global Health Advocates France, Global Health Advocates India,?Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium,?Princess of Africa Foundation (South Africa),?RESULTS International Australia,?RESULTS Canada,?RESULTS Japan,?RESULTS Educational Fund (US),?RESULTS UK, and WACI Health (Kenya).
For more information, or to be connected with our global network of health advocates:
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