Archive for July 2015
It began with the movies and with literature. TB and the suffering that TB patients went through were in turns, romanticized, tragedized and stereotyped. Came the time when the images of TB got fixed on thin, emaciated people coughing blood into white handkerchiefs, long-suffering children going out in search of work to support their ailing parent or a lover nursing his/her ailing partner back to health. That TB is a curable disease; that there is life after TB; that there is hope – all these seem to have been forgotten even in the way we communicate about TB. The messages are there; they are all in the right direction, but the imaging has not changed. It is common knowledge that imaging is extremely important while positioning anything, be it a product or a disease or a service. People relate to images, they respond to images and they can be influenced by how we image something. JATB and Aequum are attempting to change the face of TB communication. Here are two samples. Feedback is invited. Suggestions are welcome.
These posters are conceptualised, developed and designed by Aequum, with support from The Lilly MDR TB Partnership and Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT), Bangalore. The experience I have gained by writing on TB and by interacting with the TB sector through JATB has greatly helped my understanding of the gaps in the TB sector – in this case, communication. These posters are free for use. Kindly acknowledge the creators i.e. Aequum.
Day two of The Lilly MDR TB Partnership and Aequum Mentorship for TB Advocates was an exciting one. Vibrant discussions were held on the severe need for advocacy in the TB sector. The participants who came in with rich experience and learnings from ground levels on the gaps, the challenges and the problems that TB patients face during their journey from ill-health to good health, were quickly able to identify areas for change. The day also helped them to debate on different forms of communication which would be relevant for each category of patients, and give them accurate information and awareness on diagnosis, treatment and cure. There was special emphasis on the use of communication methods which could be simple for the unlettered to understand. Textless communication, the use of dolls and other methods were discussed. Some photographs:
This story showed gender discrimination. Notice the boy on the right, enjoying the joys of childhood while his sister cooks, does household chores and fetches water.
The photograph above shows how the participants used dolls and toys available within arm’s reach to tell stories of change. This story demonstrated the entire ‘cough to cure’ pathway of TB. It showed diagnosis, treatment, nutrition and cure.
The story above shows the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan’. Notice the toilet made of modelling clay on the extreme right, used as a store room for household articles. Also note the little girl defecating in the fields and the health of the family deteriorating and their having to visit doctors.
The participants demonstrated with strength that the means for effective communication is at arm’s reach. Creativity, accurate information and commitment is all it takes. The mentees deserve special kudos for this.
Day one of the The Lilly MDR TB Partnership and Aequum Mentorship for TB Advocates was an eye-opener. 14 eager, active, passionate potential TB Advocates; technical resource from Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) and support from the Lilly MDR TB Partnership proved to me that a problem which the TB sector has strugged with for long is about to be addressed – the lack of community efforts for TB control. For four days from 6-9 July 2015, 14 potential TB advocates from across India, i.e. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand, UP, Bihar, Maharashtra and New Delhi, with facilitation support from Aequum, a development communications consultancy will be deliberating on ways to bring more visibility to the issue of TB, as also how to advocate with appropriate stakeholders to address the gaps. This will be the first step, one of many that they will take over the next six months with mentoring, and after that, independently, with confidence, knowledge and capacity. There were questions. Who is a TB Advocate? Can the HIV template be applied to TB? Can TB patients go on to become advocates? And we were going around in circles, unable to find answers. Then, one day, we decided to stop and act. We decided that an outreach worker working with communities on TB control, was a potential TB advocate, an NGO representative working on TB could well become an active spokesperson for TB control; an HIV +ve person, a cured TB patient, a family member of someone who has had and got cured of TB – anybody could be a TB advocate. With this answer we were soon running and had our group. The initiative is unique; the energy levels are high and the road ahead is clear – we know what we have to do. Here are some photographs that provide testimony to what I am saying.