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
- supports partnerships that bring together the third sector, local government and the NHS to fight TB.
Reaching the ‘under-served’
The people who are particularly vulnerable to TB in the UK are often among the most marginalised in society: some black and minority ethnic communities, especially recent migrants; homeless people; people who misuse drugs or alcohol; people in contact with the criminal justice system; and people living with HIV. They are often under-served by health providers, who have historically taken a predominantly medical approach to delivering TB services, without adequately considering the relevant social, cultural and economic factors that underpin vulnerability to the illness.
The Truth About TB programme helps reach these groups by providing specialist TB training and support to facilitate local partnerships between statutory providers with responsibility for TB, and the not-for-profit organisations that already exist to support vulnerable groups.
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.