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World TB Day 2017: ACTION unites to end TB

ACTION celebrated World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24th — as well as the days preceding and following the 24th — along with people around the world. We organized parliamentary events; helped make #WorldTBDay trend on social media; and published dozens of articles and op-eds, as well as radio and television programs, in local, national, and international outlets.

TB Media Champions speak

ACTION supported TB media champions fresh from a recent training to published op-eds and blogs. Through their writing, these seven advocates outline personal experiences with the disease and make the case for increasing investment in research and development.

Ingrid Oxley (South Africa) published two op-eds:  “People were surprised to learn I had TB” (here) and “Drug-resistant TB: the edge of death” (here). Nandita Venkatesan (India) had her op-ed, “‘I lost my hearing to toxic TB drugs, time we declared war on the disease’,” featured in India’s largest newspaper, the Times of India. Timpiyian Leseni (Kenya) published an op-ed, “Why Kenyans must do more to defeat tuberculosis”; Joyce Sauk (Papua New Guinea) an op-ed: “The fight against TB begins with protecting healthcare workers”; Yuliya Chorna (Ukraine) a blog post: “When the old ways do not work”; Enrique Delgado (Panama) a blog post:  “Addressing the needs of TB patients”; and Ari Probandari (Indonesia) a blog post:  “More investment in research needed to control tuberculosis.”

Leseni, who participated in a World TB Day press conference with KANCO, is also featured in one of three videos ACTION launched on World TB Day. In “It’s tough taking tuberculosis medication,” Leseni discusses the side effects she experienced while taking treatment for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). The other videos feature TB advocate Timor Abdullaev of Uzbekistan in “Fighting tuberculosis must be a genuine collective effort” and TB treatment specialist Dr. Vivian Cox in “The world needs sustained political will to fight tuberculosis.” Also featured on ACTION’s blog was a post by Waiswa Nkwanga on fighting TB through education.

Targeting policymakers around the world

ACTION partners organized numerous events and activities around the world on World TB Day. These events aimed to engage, educate, or rally policymakers to tackle the underinvestment in TB research, which has resulted in the world’s reliance on ineffective vaccines, outmoded diagnostic tools, and impractical treatment regimens for those suffering from the disease. Here are a few highlights from those events.

G20 messaging

RESULTS Canada, RESULTS UK, GHA France, and ACTION Italy worked with the Global TB Caucus to ensure MPs from their countries attended the Berlin TB Summit March 20 – 22. The MPs signed on to an outcome document, calling on G20 leaders to take action on TB now to avert the unacceptable risk of drug-resistant TB.

RESULTS Japan helped organized the Stop TB Partnership caucus in the Japanese Diet on March 15th. Twenty-three MPs or their deputies attended the meeting, in addition to 14 officers from JICA and from the Ministries of Health, Labor and Welfare and of Foreign Affairs. RESULTS Japan led a discussion on how to include TB and AMR as a main theme for the G7 and G20 and the importance of Japanese investment in TB. The following week, the Japanese government announced it secured $313 million for the Global Fund through the 2016 supplementary budget.

Australian parliamentarians

In Australia, 80 people, including parliamentarians, diplomats, and civil society organizations (CSOs), attended a World TB Day breakfast at the Australian Parliament House. RESULTS Australia TB champion Valda Kereu, a health worker and TB survivor from Papua New Guinea, spoke at the event and had her personal story featured in the Campaign for Australian Aid blog and in a radio interview on Pacific Beat. Labor Senator Claire Moore, who serves as the Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, also spoke at the event on the importance of Australian investment in TB. She authored a blog post in Croakey, echoing these sentiments and explaining how Australian investment in TB supports child health in the region.

French presidential candidates

Working with CSO allies from Collectif santé, GHA France helped organize a radio show on Priorité Santé, which was broadcast by Radio France Internationale on March 29th. The radio program featured French presidential candidates’ responses to global health challenges.

Kenya’s National TB Prevalence Survey

KANCO and WACI Health supported the Kenyan government’s official World TB Day event on March 24th at which the findings of the National TB Prevalence Survey were released. In this first TB prevalence survey since Kenya achieved independence over 50 years ago, results showed more TB cases in Kenya than previously estimated.

Additionally, WACI Health used the celebration of World TB Day to continue to advocate for investment in TB-HIV programming, supporting MP Stephen Mule to publish a blog post, “We must invest in TB-HIV programming or lose two fights at once.” KANCO supported World TB Day events in four of the highest burden TB counties:  Turkana, Kwale, Lamu, and Kajiado.

South Africa’s National Strategic Plan

Celebrity singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka and her Princess of Africa Foundation participated in numerous events in South Africa, including co-hosting the launch of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB, and STIs 2017 – 2022. At the event, South African Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi encouraged all South Africans to play a part in achieving the goals of the plan; these include a heightened focus on geographic areas and populations most impacted by the epidemic.

UK All-Party Parliamentary Group

RESULTS UK and its grassroots chapters held numerous events commemorating World TB Day. At one such event in Parliament, more than 30 stakeholders, including 10 MPs, attended “UK leadership on TB and AMR.” The event, co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB, included numerous high-level panelists such as DFID Minister James Wharton, Department of Health Director for Emergency Preparedness and Health Protection Policy Helen Shirley-Quirk, and Chair of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, Lord Jim O’Neill. Additionally, RESULTS UK worked with journalist Meera Senthilingam to publish an article on TB in Cambodia. In her article, “What happens when health care is scarce and TB rates are high,” Senthilingam features content and images taken during RESULTS UK’s trip to Cambodia last year and CNN’s featured it on its website homepage.

On Capitol Hill

RESULTS Educational Fund worked with Aeras and other members of the TB Roundtable to organize a “Hill Advocacy Day” with 30 TB survivors in March 21st. One of the advocates, a six-year old survivor of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) spoke at a briefing organized by RESULTS. Her story was featured in an article in the Huffington Post, “One Little Girl Beat The Deadliest Form Of Tuberculosis. She Is Very Lucky.” In total, TB survivors held 40 meetings with Members of Congress and their legislative staff.

Zambian National TB Program

Zambia’s National TB Program asked CITAM+ to appear on a TV program commemorating World TB Day. Nathan Nhlane was featured in the clip, which aired on March 24th. Power FM Radio, a youth radio program, also featured Nhlane. He spoke about why TB is a problem in Zambia, the importance of early treatment for TB, and how we need a global response to tackle the epidemic.