On 24 March, the world commemorates World TB Day, and this year’s theme is ‘It’s Time’. TB is the leading infectious killer of people with HIV and the second leading infectious cause of death for adults globally. Now, more than ever, it’s time to accelerate action and efforts to test, treat and terminate TB.
TB kills more than two million people a year, impacting the poorest of families, communities and countries. World TB Day was launched to raise public awareness on the causes, effect and impact of TB around the world.
Fighting disease and health promotion is a central theme underscoring the efforts of the Federation Humana People to People and its members in the global south, so we join hands in celebrating this important commemoration. Our members have been actively involved in TB programming for more than 15 years now in high burden countries across Africa and Asia. Education has been a priority focus for the response to TB, but this must be coupled with accurate information and communication, as well as solutions to enhance the fight against TB, given that 98% of deaths occur in the developing world.
Humana People to People works in alignment with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, which calls for an end to TB by 2030. In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) End TB program aims to achieve a 95% reduction in TB deaths, 90% reduction in TB incidence rates, and zero catastrophic costs. To this end, we adopt a community-centered approach to TB programming in behavior change, health systems strengthening and TB treatment. This is achieved by integrating innovation-driven approaches through family-based support engaging a TRIO system (infected and two family members); door-to-door screening; and health education with nutrition support.
More than 20 TB prevention and treatment projects were implemented across nine countries in the global south by our members in 2019; these are Angola, Congo, Botswana, Laos, India, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Projects engaged a broad-based community approach, working with the poorest, vulnerable communities, as well as adolescent girls and young women in the remotest locations.
This year alone, TB efforts by our members resulted in the screening of 390 000 people, testing of 24 000 people and referral of 5 000 people for TB treatment. Key to all project efforts was enabling communities to ‘own’ HIV and TB, breaking down associated stigma, better understanding disease symptoms, and adopting measures to live positively with a support structure and continued awareness and behavior change.