In October 2015, TB Alert launched the Educate, Prevent and Treat project to improve the health of women, children and people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Virudhunagar and Kanchipuram Districts of Tamil Nadu, India. These groups face many social and structural barriers to TB diagnosis and treatment, such as their health being considered a low priority or specific stigma and discrimination.
TB Alert’s project, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, works in partnership with the Blossom Trust to support marginalised groups to influence TB service provision and overcome barriers to accessing services.
In 2016, 661 people were diagnosed with TB and started on treatment as a result of the project, which reached over 22,000 people with information about TB and local TB services.
Information about TB is provided to vulnerable groups in formats that meet their specific language and cultural needs. The project also raises awareness of TB in the wider community, to challenge stigma and discrimination.
Influence and impact
The project extends its influence and impact by working within existing structures and services. This includes providing TB training to influential community members, and the private and traditional health service providers that are often the first point of call for people that fall ill in India.
TB case finding and referrals
During health education sessions and community outreach activities, TB Alert’s project volunteers actively identify people with possible TB symptoms and refer them to government health facilities for diagnosis and treatment.
Project workers also work with government TB facilities to support TB contact tracing. Under contact tracing, project workers visit the homes of newly registered TB patients to screen their family for possible TB symptoms
– referring suspected cases to health services for diagnosis.
The project targets a vast network of existing community self help groups, to train members on TB, the referral process and TB awareness raising. This cascade method of TB awareness raising, in which trained self help group members go on to raise awareness of TB in their communities, widens the reach of the programme and ensures its sustainability.