In 2010 TB Alert launched The Truth About TB programme to raise awareness of TB in the UK. The programme:
- recognises the social, cultural and economic factors that make people more vulnerable to TB
- empowers people affected by TB to be involved in the design and delivery of TB services
- involves the third sector in TB partnerships with local government and the NHS.
Reaching the ‘under-served’
The people who are particularly vulnerable to TB in the UK are often among the most marginalised in society: black and minority ethnic communities, homeless people, people who misuse drugs or alcohol and people living with HIV. They are often under-served by health providers, who have until now taken an overwhelmingly medical approach to delivering TB services, without considering social, cultural and economic factors.
The Truth About TB programme reaches these groups by supporting local partnerships between statutory providers with responsibility for TB, and the not-for-profit organisations that already exist to support vulnerable groups. It provides TB training and support to enable such non-TB specialist organisations to integrate TB into their programmes.
In Redbridge, London, ‘health buddies’ like Sabine are helping to raise awareness of TB and dispel myths.
Involving people affected by TB
The programme also encourages local TB partnerships to include the voices of people affected by TB at all levels of planning and delivery. People who have been through TB services as a patient are, after all, best placed to understand why people may delay seeking help for possible TB symptoms, and what encourages people to seek out and remain in treatment. The TB Action Group, a network for people affected by TB in the UK, is leading the way on this work.