Building TB proof communities; Advancing TB prevention through collaborative partnerships
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.