World TB Day, falling on March 24th each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world. Humana People to People join the rest of the world in commemorating the World TB Day.
The event in 2018 is marked under the theme “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”. There is a great need to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress towards eliminating TB as a public health burden. Stop TB Partnerships reveal that TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer, being responsible for the deaths of nearly 1.7 million people each year and representing the ninth leading cause of death globally.
The members of Humana People to People in Asia and Southern Africa are taking an active role in working closely with the national governments’ efforts in fighting the further spread of TB. Many community based actions are being implemented supporting TB case identification and referral of TB medical diagnosis and TB treatment. All the Humana People to People TB interventions are contributing to the World Health Organization strategy which aims at ending the global TB epidemic, with targets formulated to achieve reduction of TB deaths by 95% and to cut new TB cases by 90% between 2015 and 2035, and to ensure that no family is burdened with catastrophic expenses due to TB.
What is TB and how does it spread?
TB is an abbreviation of the word Tuberculosis and TB is how people often refer to the disease. It is caused by the bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tuberculosis). TB is spread from one person to another through the air. You get TB by breathing in TB bacteria in the air. Bacteria get released into the air by someone who already has the bacteria in their body.
The bacteria that usually cause the disease in humans, usually affect the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body.
Understanding TB as a disease
TB disease is what happens when a person has latent TB and then becomes sick. Sometimes this is known as having active TB. Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that on overall, 5 to 10% of people with latent TB, who do not receive treatment for it, will become sick at some time in their lives.
Some people become sick soon after they have become infected, other people do not get sick at first but they get sick years later when their immune system becomes weak for another reason. This can be because they have an infection, such as HIV, or some other health problem. The risk to some specific population groups is much higher and this includes infants and children aged less than 4, people infected within the previous two years, people who are infected with HIV, terminally ill persons and people who have certain illnesses or conditions which affect their immune system, such as people with diabetes, and people with chronic renal failure.
If someone has drug resistant TB it means that the bacteria in their body would not be affected by certain drugs that they are resistant to. The drugs just would not work. There are two main reasons why people develop it. It can be because the person doesn’t take the drugs properly. It can also be that the bacteria they are infected with have come from someone who has already got drug resistant TB. Being drug sensitive is the opposite of being drug resistant.
Humana People to People and community based TB prevention actions
Total Control of Tuberculosis is empowering every individual to fight TB and HIV through repeated mobilization, information dissemination, education, referral for medical attention, treatment and community based basic counseling including follow-up support.
The program uses its unique strategy of mobilizing people to know their HIV status, screening for TB as well as collecting sputum from the doorstep to the laboratory and bringing the results back to the household. This strategy has reached many people who ordinarily would not seek out knowledge or treatment of TB.
Currently there are TB programs which are benefiting hundreds of thousands of people in Angola, Malawi, India, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. More countries are also working with TB epidemic through the Total Control of the Epidemic or HOPE Humana project types.
TC TB projects work closely with community leaders, the Ministry of Health and particularly the department of TB and infectious disease in adhering to national TB policy requirements. In specific countries technical support is given by other specialized TB organizations.
In India, 11 493 people were identified with TB symptoms, of which the Humana People to People India’s HIV and TB prevention project referred 8 081 TB symptomatic individuals to be tested at Diagnostic Medical Centers and of these,
1 414 people were detected with TB in 2017. The program is running in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh states.
In Mozambique, ADPP Mozambique is implementing Total Control of Tuberculosis in Nampula and Zambezia provinces which is part of a larger program called Challenge TB led by FHI360. In 2017 the project reached almost 63 000 people with TB awareness and knowledge about how to prevent, recognize the symptoms and adhere to the treatment. 5 176 people got diagnosed with TB and started the treatment. By the end of the year 1 278 persons were cured and others are still on treatment.
In Malawi, DAPP Malawi’s TC TB Thyolo have 670 Community Volunteers and 24 Community Health Workers reaching 31 272 people with TB and HIV and AIDS prevention messages. 3 988 people were screened for TB, while 1 630 sputum samples were collected for laboratory tests at health centers. Nutrition supplements were given to the patients to improve their nutrition status and overcome the heavy pill burden.
In Zimbabwe, during the course of 2017, the DAPP Zimbabwe’s TC TB Makoni project reached 38 253 people in Makoni district, Manicaland province. The door-to-door community mobilization activities have resulted in many people voluntarily seeking TB tests at the local health clinics. Sputum was collected from 925 people out of which 10 people were found to be infected by TB and were enrolled for treatment.