Building TB free communities starts with better collaboration, as one way of preventing TB and reducing deaths, the Facilitators for Community Transformation (FACT) a local NGO is working to tackle stigma and discrimination, raising awareness on TB and strengthening capacity of local leaders in the districts of Mangochi, Mulanje and Machinga, the partnership has already borne good fruits in the communities.

FACT  in  partnership  with  Development  Aid  from  People  to  People  (DAPP),  KNCV  Tuberculosis Foundation  and  Ministry  of  Health  with  funding  from  United  States  Agency  for  International Development (USAID) is implementing a project dubbed Mobilizing Local Entities to Improve the Quality, Scale and Sustainability of the TB Response in Malawi (Project QSS).

As part of this work, FACT has been working across three targeted districts of Mangochi, Mulanje and Machinga to launch and roll out a TB stigma and discrimination, human rights and gender communication campaign. In addition, six interactive community radio programs on TB awareness and stigma reductions have been broadcast.

Taking  into  account  the  role  faith  leaders  play  in  public  health,  FACT  has  also  conducted  two district faith-based massage seminars on TB stigma, discrimination and human rights massages reaching  100  faith  leaders  to  ensure  that  the  leaders  use  their  religious  platforms  across communities to help reduce stigma and discrimination and promote a rights-based approach towards TB.

FACT  Head  of  Programs,  Aggrey  Munthali  says  the  QSS  project  is  vital  to  enhance  TB  case notifcation and improve treatment outcomes and hails USAID for funding the project.

Across  targeted  districts,  FACT  and  partners  are  working  to  reduce  stigma  and  discrimination among TB patients by increasing TB and HIV awareness using campaigns targeting high burden communities  to  improve  understanding  of  TB  symptoms,  transmission,  prevention,  diagnosis leading to increased service demand across health facilities.

“There is a general indisputable perception that gender, cultural beliefs, stigma and discrimination afects access to quality TB services among people afected by TB. In a bid to streamline and harmonize  critical  information  and  skills  were  highlighted  and  disseminated  to  groups  of  faith leaders across three districts during a one-day seminar” explains one of the feld reports The report also adds “It is anticipated that this will narrow the communication gap created by misconceptions, and negative myths surrounding TB”

In  areas  of  Mangochi  such  as  Malombe  which  is  located  on  the  shores  of  lake  Malawi,  FACT has been conducting awareness campaigns to engage people on issues of gender, stigma and human rights. The organization conducted three community sensitization campaigns across Mangochi, Mulanje and Machinga district, drawing together faith and traditional leaders.

Community TB outreach ambassadors were unveiled at awareness campaign events to increase community awareness on TB, stigma, human rights and gender, this is vital to increase demand for comprehensive TB services, including encouraging earlier presentation at facilities when TB symptoms develop. FACT has reached over 3000 community members across the targeted three QSS project target districts.