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Four people sitting in a health center waiting room, three of them wearing masks.
We’re working to fight TB around the world. Photo: PATH/Nguyen Ba Quang.

Community leaders and former tuberculosis (TB) patients from five African countries have launched the Africa Coalition on Tuberculosis (ACT!), which will work to ensure universal access to high-quality, rapid TB diagnosis, appropriate and respectful care and treatment, and effective new drugs and vaccines.

At a Washington, D.C. event commemorating World TB Day 2012, representatives from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Swaziland, and Zambia kicked off the new effort by presenting Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, with the Civil Society Declaration on Tuberculosis in Africa. The coalition is sponsored by the Stop TB Partnership, PATH, and other collaborators.

Access to diagnosis and treatment

The event was organized by PATH, which works around the world to support universal access to high-quality TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment through innovative approaches and tools. The day featured sessions led by the activists from Africa as well as representatives of the Department of Health in Washington, D.C., where TB remains a threat to public health.

Speaking at the gathering, Dr. Ditiu outlined the global threat of TB, noting that every year, more than nine million people are affected by TB, with more than nine out of ten cases found in developing countries. She called for advocacy, community engagement, and “TB 2.0”—an integrated model that allows for better TB diagnosis and treatment.

Global problem and solutions

The African activists, who gave presentations on TB care and treatment, are taking part in a two-week, cross-cutting training in advocacy, communication, and social mobilization for TB control organized by PATH and funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The training uses PATH’s expertise and experience to help participants find and treat more cases of TB.

To address the effect of TB in a U.S. city, representatives of the Washington, D.C. Department of Health took participants on a virtual journey, demonstrating how TB arrives in their city, how it’s spread, and how it’s cured. The session showed how a global problem impacts local issues.

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Posted March 22, 2012.