World TB Day

St George’s Cathedral marks World TB Day with special service

On Sunday, 24 March, St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town was lit up in red to mark World TB Day 2019.

It was part of the Stop TB Partnership’s international campaign to shine a spotlight on tuberculosis: Light up the World in Red to End TB.

St George’s Cathedral was chosen as a symbol of this year’s campaign because South Africa has adopted the “It’s Time” theme, but adapted it to say:

It’s time…for religious leaders, parliamentarians and legislators to lead the fight to end TB in South Africa

This theme was chosen in recognition of the role of faith-based leaders as powerful influencers in South Africa. It is hoped that they can contribute in at least two ways:

  • By exemplifying the principles of acceptance and inclusion that underpin most faiths and welcoming and supporting those affected by TB, thereby combatting stigma associated with the disease; and
  • By contacting their local clinics to invite them to perform health screenings in their congregations.

Earlier in the day, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, together with the National Assembly Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete, joined the Anglican Archbishop, Thabo Makgoba and other faith-based leaders, parliamentarians, civil society and TB ambassadors at a special 09h30 service at St George’s Cathedral dedicated to those affected by TB in South Africa.

TB HIV Care was also honoured to be involvement in the national World TB Day commemoration, which took place in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape on the 28th of March. Simphiwe Sandlana (TB HIV Care’s Stakeholder Manager) joined the provinicial steering committee in the lead up to the event.

The day started with an activation at the taxi rank at highway NU1, Mdantsane and this was followed by a political briefing. The political principals were divided into two groups and were joined by senior DOH Managers to visit either Wesbank Correctional Centre or a household of a TB survivor in Mdantsane.

At Wesbank Correctional Centre, they were provided with an overview of the innovative and creative ways TB is managed within the Correctional Centre. At the household of the TB survivor, the politicians witnessed first-hand how contact tracing and TB screening is conducted.

The World TB Day event was held at Orlando Sports Field, which is adjacent to Sisa Dukashe Stadium. By 07h45, throngs of people were lining up and ready to go through the turnstiles, development partners had pitched their gazebos for HTS services and TB HIV Care had erected tents for testing and screening. Development partners provided HTS services throughout the day.

The formal part of the programme was well attended with the main tent overflowing. The dignitaries who gave messages of support included Mr John Groarke (USAID Mission Director) and Dr Mbulawa Mugabe (UNAIDS Country Director). Both commended the country for its investment and focus on TB programmes and encouraged the attendees to realise that ‘It’s Time…to advocate for TB”. However, the highlight of the day was the keynote address by Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the National Minister of Health.

The essence of Dr Motsoaledi’s speech was that all South Africans should take an interest in knowing their TB status by getting screened and tested for TB. In addition, he emphasised that in households where a member of the family is a confirmed TB patient (or presumptive for TB), all members of the household must be screened and tested for TB.

It was a great day, many thanks to Simphiwe Sandlana and the TB HIV Care teams who helped make it such a success!

World TB Day 2019: Theme

This week the Stop TB Partnership announced the theme for World TB Day 2019: It’s Time

A simple but powerful theme, it is also a call to action. Following on from the first-ever UN High Level Meeting on TB in September, the launch of the SA TB Caucus, and the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health, which took place in The Hague in October, it is time to build on the momentum, harness political will and see the end TB in our lifetime.

As The Stop TB Partnership have announced, It’s Time…

  • …to keep the promises made at the UN HLM on TB
  • …for a world without TB
  • …to treat 40 million people affected by TB by 2022
  • …to know your TB status

World TB Day takes place on Sunday, 24 March 2019.
 

Table Mountain lit up red to mark World TB Day

TB HIV Care, the National Department of Health and Table Mountain National Park, joined Stop TB Partnership’s global initiative to “Light up the World for TB” by lighting Table Mountain red on Saturday evening, 24 March.

This year 60 landmarks in 44 cities in 21 countries around the world were lit up to demonstrate a commitment towards ending TB. We were extremely proud to add Table Mountain to that list.

The event caught the imagination of many TB advocates, activists and champions – all the way up to the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. Unfortunately, the president was unable to make the event as planned (he was delayed in meetings), but we were honoured to welcome Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (who read an address from the president) as well as Dr Yogan Pillay (Deputy Director-General at the Department of Health), Dr Linda-Gail Bekker (Deputy Director of the DTHC) who gave a powerful address, and guests from Unitaid.

But, as Dr Motsoaledi recognised, the real VIP guests on the night were the children and staff of the Brooklyn Chest Hospital. Their presence reminded us that, in the words of President Ramaphosa, “the symbolism of lighting up landmarks around the world must extend beyond honoring those who have died from TB, to a commitment to ending TB by 2030 or sooner”.

Unfortunately we couldn’t do anything about the weather (and as Capetonians we are grateful for any rain!) and the overall effect was a little more subtle than hoped because of the cloud and mist. But it was a special night – one we will remember for a long time!

TB HIV Care was lucky enough to receive live coverage on eNCA as well as additional reporting on eNCA.com, News24.com, Eyewitness News and Cape Talk.

To read more about our contribution to the campaign, have a look at Stop TB Partnership’s latest newsletter.