Civil Society Involvement Critical To TB Efforts, Addressing Stigma

The Guardian: Where is civil society in the fight against TB?
Sophie Cousins, health writer

“…[W]hy does [TB] not get the attention it warrants? Why is there so much stigma around TB? And where is the civil society movement that we saw with AIDS? When you contrast the extent of social mobilization around HIV/AIDS, the lack of civil society involvement in TB is striking. … TB stigma is driven by a range of factors, from fear of infection to the belief that the disease is associated with witchcraft. It’s also associated closely with factors that can themselves create stigma — from HIV, to poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, refugee status, homelessness, and prison history. … Stigma can … be addressed by creating and expanding channels for the early detection of the disease. If TB testing is normalized and patients can begin the correct treatment without delay, they can quickly become non-infectious. Looking ahead, we know what needs to be done. We need to invest in research and development; people need greater access to diagnostics, particularly for drug-resistance, and better treatments that are less toxic and more effective; and we need the international community to fund the fight against the disease fully. We also urgently need a civil society movement that will hold governments, agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, and other organisations to account” (2/5).