We need people – people like those in TB Alert, who are focused and ambitious and care for people at grass roots in the UK, India and Africa. Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership
Raising awareness of TB-HIV
TB Alert’s baseline study found that there is a lack of awareness about both TB and HIV among tribal, fishing, rural and urban poor people in Andhra Pradesh. Stigma and low levels of knowledge mean many people simply do not know TB-HIV risk factors or symptoms, or who best to turn to if they fall ill.
TAP’s awareness raising activities - including group meetings, cultural materials and training - are designed to reach these disadvantaged communities to increase the numbers diagnosed and to reduce the spread of TB-HIV.
Small and large scale awareness raising meetings:
TAP’s trained staff and volunteers organise meetings in local communities, ranging from mass rallies to one-to-one sessions, to talk about TB and HIV. Group meetings help to break down the taboos that surround TB and HIV, whilst one-to-one meetings provide advice and support for people that may be reluctant to come forward otherwise.
This work includes establishing self-sustaining groups, in which people can discuss TB and HIV, and receive guidance and support:
Community Core groups: led by community leaders - including teachers, faith based leaders, and women’s support group leaders – and people affected by TB-HIV. Group members discuss issues around TB and HIV, including cultural perceptions of the two diseases, and how these may be overcome.
Adult Support Groups: led by people affected by TB-HIV. This group provides support for adults that are concerned about TB-HIV, including referrals to government clinics.
Grannies Clubs: a forum to provide advice and support for grandparents whose children have been affected by TB-HIV, many of whom are raising children orphaned by AIDS.
Child Support Groups: a group for children, some of whom are infected or affected by TB and/or HIV. The group provides play-based support and life-skills training to help children grieve and to support their sense of belonging with their peers.
Swami's story: A TB-HIV orphan shares his experiences to save others
Culturally appropriate activities and materials:
TAP staff and volunteers work with local communities to produce cultural activities and information materials. Drama and dance are used as an engaging and effective means to transmit messages about TB and HIV, particularly to people with low-literacy levels. Highly visual materials are developed and distributed in settings where they will reach a wide audience: health-centres, post offices, schools, public transport – including buses, rickshaws and boats – and in market places. The materials are also handed out at awareness raising meetings.
Snakes and Ladders: a fun way to help children understand how to manage TB and HIV treatment
Training private healthcare providers and traditional healers, and supporting referrals:
The project recognises that private medical practitioners are often the first point of call for people who fall ill. These providers are known and trusted by the local communities in which they are based. However, their knowledge around TB is often limited and their prescribed treatments costly and ineffective. TAP staff and volunteers arrange meetings with private medical practitioners to train them on TB and HIV, and how to refer patients to government health clinics where they can receive an accurate diagnosis and free treatment.
TAP will also fund poor and marginalised individuals – including orphans, tribal people and fisher-folk – to travel to government health services, which may be some distance away.
Advocating for improved TB diagnosis and treatment at state, district and local level:
TAP’s work in the community helps them to understand the issues that prevent local communities from accessing healthcare facilities for TB-HIV diagnosis; or from completing their treatment successfully if they are diagnosed with TB or HIV. TAP’s staff and volunteers are trained in advocacy techniques, to enable them to work with health service providers and policymakers; at local and state levels; to advocate for improved services based on this knowledge.
TAP are currently advocating with the state government of Andhra Pradesh to address the lack of sputum microscopy and chest x-ray diagnostic facilities within easy reach of local communities. Long distances prevent many people being tested for TB. They are also working to gain a nutritional support package for children aged 6 or below who are infected or affected by TB. Nutrition is already provided by the government of India to Children living with HIV, and we would like this to be extended to TB.
|TB Alert's TAP project is supported by the Department for International Development's UK aid programme |
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