Last week, we were lucky enough to be joined by Drs. Arne and Dalene von Delft and former TB Nurse Pat Bond from South African advocacy organisation TB Proof for a 'mini' advocacy tour on tuberculosis.
TB Proof was founded in 2012 by South African Health Care Workers and Students after multiple personal experiences with occupational tuberculosis - TB that is caught in as a result of your work . The informal alliance now work to:
- create awareness of and protection against occupation TB;
- destigmatise and prioritise occupational TB;
- mobilise national and global resources to help address shortcoming in preventions and treatment strategies.
This engaging video explains a bit more about why TB Proof was set up:
With such passionate and dedicated members, the tour with TB Proof was a great success and undoubtedly effective in achieving or working towards the aims listed above, that are also close to the work that we are doing at RESULTS.
In the day and half whirlwind tour we worked hard at raising awareness of occupational TB and the problems associated with the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB with UK parliamentarians both in the House of Lords and House of Commons.
After spending some much needed down time exploring the impressive parliamentary estate, the next day was spent meeting healthcare professionals working on TB in London.
It was great to see doctors and nurses from South Africa coming together with London TB healthcare professionals. This meeting was a fascinating opportunity to hear about the experiences of those working on TB in the UK and South Africa. Despite there being many differences in these experiences, it was interesting to hear that there was much in common with both groups. This shared experience was particularly notable when we discussed the issue of the stigma that acts as a real barrier for many in seeking treatment or disclosing their diagnosis.
On the issue of stigma, Pat, a former nurse who contracted MDR-TB
while at work and who now works with TB Proof, explained that when many of her co-workers discovered she had TB they shunned her and did not provide any support, as would perhaps be expected, leaving her isolated and alone. For me, it was surprising to hear that there are doctors and nurses working on TB in the UK who have tried to keep their TB diagnosis as quiet as possible for the very same reason.
It was fantastic to leave this session with many in the room keen to take action and asking what they could do, as healthcare professionals working directly with TB patients, to help mobilise more resources, help raise awareness and help destigmatise the disease both in the UK and overseas.