Tuberculosis — the world leading infectious disease – killed about 1.7 million people in 2016. Additionally, more than 10 million people globally got sick with the disease and about four million of them failed to be diagnosed, treated or reported by health systems.
The global state of TB management remains dire and the aim to end the epidemic by 2030 as agreed in the Sustainable Development Goals is still way out of reach. To change this, global health partners must pull together. To contribute to that effort, WACI Health is determined to keep TB prevention, treatment and management in the frontline. WACI Health and other global health partners demand and support efforts to accelerate action against TB.
In Africa, we are working with civil society organisations to galvanise and support leaders to champion more investments and better TB policies. For instance, we were part of a group that pushed to have more members of parliament attend the Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development in Moscow in November 2017. We are also supporting similar initiatives for the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on TB in New York, to encourage the attendance of as many African heads of state as possible and to ensure that civil society key asks are prioritised by the heads of state. In commemoration of World TB Day in 2017, we issued a news release through the Africa civil society platform on health and GFAN Africa, with a focus on drug resistant TB. We called on WHO to add TB to its list of high priority drug-resistant bacteria and called on African governments to prioritise tuberculosis in national health and development agendas. We further challenged G20 leaders to demonstrate leadership in responding to drug-resistant TB by committing to fund new research to develop better drugs and treatment regimens. In South Africa, our World TB Day activities involved working with Section 27 and Treatment Access Campaign (TAC) to host two workshops — for TAC members in Free State Province and for Buffalo City Municipality AIDS Council civil society sector members in Eastern Cape. In both meetings, we underlined the need for civil society movements to play a greater role in advocating for proper implementation of the South Africa’s national TB strategic plan. In Kenya, we participated in the launch of Kenya’s first TB prevalence survey 2015/2016. We also participated in schools’ campaign to promote TB awareness in schools and the community. School children were engaged in essay writing and a photo competition on TB control in their communities. WACI Health worked with Hon Stephen Mule, Kenyan Member of Parliament and Chair African TB Caucus, to write a blog on the integration of TB and HIV.