COMDIS-HSD partners led the way in international events for World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on 24 March. Activities were organised across the globe to promote awareness of the disease under the theme “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World”. The World Health Organization called on anyone affected by the disease to come forward as leaders in the fight against TB. Alongside heads of state and political leaders, this included doctors, health workers, patients and families.
COMDIS-HSD: Lighting the town red against TB
The University of Leeds and Leeds City Council organised public buildings to be illuminated as part of a Stop TB global initiative to light up key landmarks. The town hall, civic hall and university’s Parkinson building were all lit up red to show commitment to tackling TB.
Academics from COMDIS-HSD were also involved in a joint letter sent to UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, urging for more action against TB.
James Newell, Professor of International Health at the University of Leeds, said:
“TB continues to be the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming over 4,500 lives a day. Increasing rates of TB resistant to the drugs commonly used for treatment – so-called multidrug-resistant TB – poses a major global health threat and threatens gains made in the fight against the disease.
“Because TB and multidrug-resistant TB are spread from one person to another through droplets in the air, they pose a threat to everyone in the world, not just people in developing countries: in fact, rates of TB are higher in some areas of the UK than in parts of Africa and Asia.”
Helen Elsey, Associate Professor in Public Health at the University of Leeds, said:
“TB is still an important health issue in Leeds, affecting some of our most vulnerable communities, with 425 new cases in 2016 in Yorkshire and Humber.
“The most significant impacts of TB are seen in low income countries, where 95% of cases and deaths occur. The global community has set a goal to end the TB pandemic by 2030.
“However, a recent World Health Organization report warned that current global actions and investments fall far short of those needed to achieve this goal. There is an urgent need to mobilise political, social and resource commitments to ensure that here in the UK and globally we can end this debilitating and dangerous disease and the human suffering which it brings.”
ARK Foundation: We have to work together to eliminate TB
ARK Foundation took to the streets of Dhaka once again for their annual World TB Day rally. Around 1500 people joined the procession led by TB leaders, which followed a route from the Bangladesh National Museum to the iconic Doel Chatar sculpture.
Dr Mozaffar Hossain Paltu, President of the National Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh, said: “It has been more than 100 years since TB was discovered by Dr Robert Koch and we haven’t stopped it yet. We have to work together to eliminate TB from Bangladesh and the world.”
To accompany the rally, Ark Foundation produced 15,000 fact sheets circulated to hospitals, clinics and health centres nationwide. They were were also sent to administrative divisions before the event.
HERD International: laying the foundations against TB
HERD International were involved in a programme organised by the National Tuberculosis Centre in Thimi, Bhaktapur.
As part of the day’s events, Minister of State for Health, Padma Kumari Aryal, laid the foundation stone for the future National Chest Disease Hospital in Bhaktapur. It is to be a specialist, tertiary referral hospital for difficult cases of TB and other respiratory diseases, and will be developed as a “centre for excellence” at the national level.
“The hospital will help to provide timely treatment to tuberculosis patients,” said Dr Kedar Narasing KC, Director of the National Tuberculosis Centre.
Featuring 300 beds, it is planned to be constructed within 3 years.
ASD: Creating awareness about TB prevention
In Pakistan, activities took place in 13 districts where ASD have been implementing public-private mix TB interventions. During March, 25 community gatherings were held to create awareness about TB prevention, alongside 25 chest camps screening individuals for TB. Seminars were held in each district with an average attendance of 50-60 people. TB awareness banners were displayed on rickshaws, with larger banners displayed in prominent places. Press briefings were held in eight districts and local cable networks broadcasted TB awareness messages for 2 weeks.
In 12 teaching/specialised hospitals, health staff gathered at Programmatic Management of Drug-Resistant TB sites to celebrate World TB Day. Where possible, walks were organised around hospital premises. Lectures were delivered by the MDR physician/professor of pulmonology at each site, outlining the prevalence of TB, transmission of the disease, diagnosis, and the free treatment provided by The Global Fund.