TB Alert is a young charity, registered in late 1998 and launched at the Houses of Parliament on World TB Day (24th March) 1999. The charity was set up by people who felt that with its long tradition of TB work, there should be a greater response in Britain to the resurgent threat of tuberculosis – which was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization in 1993.
TB Alert was the first TB-specific charity to be set up in Britain since the 1960s, when earlier organisations – assuming too soon that the disease had been beaten – moved on to other interests. Our active trustees include many of the leading UK-based TB experts. For the first three years of its life the charity was run solely by volunteers and it was only in 2001 that the first member of staff was appointed.
A growing organisation
In 2000, TB Alert funded our first projects in India (in Delhi and Jharkhand State), leading to the establishment of our sister organisation, TB Alert India, four years later. TB Alert and TB Alert India received their first grant from the UK Department for International Development (DfID) for the APCHIP project in India, which ran for four years from 2008. In 2011 we received another DfID grant for the TB-HIV in Andhra Pradesh project (TAP), which is working among the poorest communities to increase their access to TB and HIV treatment and to build their understanding of their rights to treatment and good health.
In 2003, we were fortunate to gain the support of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he became one of our Patrons. He continues as Patron today, despite retiring from much of his charitable work in 2011. TB Alert began delivering a strategic plan for TB in Southern Africa in 2009, which runs until 2015. In 2005, we were thrilled when our Honorary President Sir John Crofton (died 2009) was awarded the Union Medal, the highest award of the International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases (IUATLD) for his outstanding, long-term contribution to the control of tuberculosis.
Our UK work
The TB Action Group (TBAG) launched with TB Alert’s support in 2008, as a means of providing a voice for people affected by TB in the UK. In the same year, TB Alert developed The Truth About TB programme as the Department of Health’s lead partner in delivering the TB awareness raising objectives set out in the TB action plan (2004) and TB commissioning toolkit (2007). The programme began by raising awareness of the rise in TB through primary care trusts (PCTs), before helping build the capacity of third sector organisations working with high risk communities in the UK.
The programme’s website went online in 2009. To support people affected by TB in the UK, TB Alert set up a new patient support community in 2011 and we also received a second round of funding to continue The Truth About TB programme – a huge endorsement of the work done so far to address awareness of TB in England.