So the They Go to Die tour has finally come to an end and it’s safe to say it was a huge success! Apart from a few smaller screenings, all were very well-attended with a good number bursting at the seams. We had over 1000 action cards signed and hundreds of photos to add to our photo petition, a clear indicator of how effective the film was in engaging people in the issue.
The reason we teamed up with Jonathan Smith and took the documentary on the road was to inform people about TB in Southern Africa but most importantly it was get people to take action. The whole point of Jonathan’s film is to create change, as he says ‘what is the point in public health research if it has no public health benefit?’. So we bridged the gap between academia and advocacy and came up with 2 tangible ways in which the UK’s public could play their part in bringing this issue to the attention of UK decision makers. In brief these are to:
- Sign an action card/the e-petition urging Anglo Gold Ashanti (the largest mining company in Southern Africa and registered on the London Stock Exchange) to implement the PREVENT, FIND TREAT strategy for dealing with TB.
- Send a letter to your MP asking them to write to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for DFiD, urging her to contribute 30 million to TB REACH and to make a strong commitment to the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and Malaria during its replenishment in September. Please go to www.dyingforgold.co.uk for more details on these actions and to download your MP letter.
Last week the tour came to a head with meetings in parliament and at DFiD as well as the final screening of They Go to Die at the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine (LSHTM). The event at LSHTM featured an excellent high-level panel discussion with Lord Boateng, (the ex-high commissioner to South Africa), our own Aaron Oxley, Dr. Stephen Lawn from LSHTM, Jonathan Smith and chaired by Financial Time’s health and pharmaceuticals correspondent Andrew Jack. The group discussed in detail the importance of creating closer relationships between researchers, the media and policy makers in the fight to deal with TB.
But it wasn’t just in the UK that the issue of TB was being actively discussed last week. In Swaziland a hugely important meeting took place with the objective of designing a strategy to ensure that Southern Africa gets back on track with its HIV and TB goals in the remaining 1000 days of the MDGs. The meeting culminated in the Swaziland Statement which was signed by SADC government leaders, health ministers, multilateral organisations and NGOs. The statement encourages multi-sector approaches to dealing with the diseases and pledges to increase efforts in advocacy and fundraising to help halve HIV and TB death rates by 2015.
You can read the statement here http://www.stoptb.org/assets/documents/news/Swaziland%20Statement%20signed.pdf