TB is an Everyday Fight – Let’s Speak UP
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.