My last surviving grandparent, my Nanna, passed away peacefully late last year. And the end of a loved one’s life – particularly the last member of a generation – is a significant milestone in a family’s history. So I found myself spending a fair bit of time learning more about her younger self, which is when I came to know more about Ailsa.
At the recent Delhi End TB Summit, Sudeshwar Singh, 40, a tuberculosis (TB) survivor, took to the stage to share his story, not just about the physical hardship of his diagnosis but also the stigma and fear that plagued his family and threatened to crush his spirit. Sudeshwar’s story, however, ends with a victory and a call for optimism for the fight against TB; he completed his treatment, and became an activist, raising TB awareness in his home state of Bihar.
The global community is coming together to tackle an ancient disease that still inflicts interminable human suffering. Globally, one person dies of TB every 20 seconds. While progress has been made over the past decade much remains to be done. Annually, there are still 10.4 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths. One of the key challenges is to find the 4 million missing cases, individuals who develop TB but are missed by health systems and continue to transmit the disease. With the global commitment to end TB, there is a renewed sense of hope in the battle against TB.
On March 24th the global community marks World TB day to commemorate the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch discovered the cause of tuberculosis. At the time, the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic was raging out of control in Europe and the Americas, and this discovery paved the way for millions to be successfully treated. Today, TB remains a major public health threat with 4,000 lives lost daily to this highly curable disease. But this TB day stands out from previous ones.
The scaling up of voluntary medical male circumcision, particularly in high HIV prevalence settings, is a highly cost-effective intervention to fight the epidemic—randomized controlled trials have found a 60% protective effect against HIV for men who became circumcised.
But, the supply of this medical service is just one part of the picture. Without active involvement from individuals and communities to deal with social and cultural factors that influence service acceptability, the demand for this common surgical procedure will be low.
Indeed, on a recent visit to Botswana, a country with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision, my World Bank colleagues and I had a good discussion with the National HIV/AIDS Commission about ways to address the low uptake of voluntary, safe male circumcision services in spite of a well-funded program by the government. It was obvious to all that if the demand for, and uptake of, this service were not strengthened through creative mechanisms that foster acceptance, ownership, and active participation of individuals and community organizations, the program would not help control the spread of HIV through increased funding of facilities, equipment, and staff alone.
So, what do we need to do to ensure that need, demand, utilization, and supply of services are fully aligned to improve health conditions?
Il y a quelque temps, je suis parti en mission visiter un nouvel hôpital au Lesotho. Je savais que cet établissement était destiné à accueillir des patients atteints de tuberculose multi-résistante et je sais aussi le lourd tribut que la co-infection VIH-tuberculose fait payer au pays. Je m’attendais donc à ce que les caractéristiques démographiques des patients correspondent à celle du VIH : essentiellement des patients jeunes, et de plus en plus de femmes.
Mais je n’étais pas préparé à voir deux familles entières, jeunes et vieux, hommes, femmes et enfants, confinées ensemble pour un certain temps, sous la surveillance de professionnels de santé veillant à ce que tous prennent bien leurs doses quotidiennes de médicaments.
Hace un tiempo, formé parte de una misión que debía visitar un nuevo hospital en Lesotho. Me advirtieron de antemano que el propósito de estas instalaciones era atender a las personas que sufren de tuberculosis (TB) multirresistente a los medicamentos, y conociendo la inmensa carga de coinfecciones de VIH y TB en el país, esperaba que el perfil demográfico de los pacientes fuera similar al del VIH: en su mayoría jóvenes y cada vez más mujeres.
Para lo que no estaba preparado era para encontrarme con dos familias enteras —jóvenes y viejos, hombres, mujeres y niños— confinados juntos en el futuro inmediato para ser observados por trabajadores de la salud mientras toman sus medicamentos diariamente.
A while ago, I was part of a mission to visit a new hospital in Lesotho. Warned in advance that this facility was intended to treat people with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB)– and knowing the huge burden of HIV-TB co-infection in the country—I was expecting the patients’ demographic to match the profile of HIV: largely young and increasingly female.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the sight of two entire families—young and old, men, women and children—all confined together for the foreseeable future, to be monitored by health workers as they take their daily drugs.
Some countries of the former Soviet Union, the so-called CIS countries, are facing difficult challenges to achieve the HIV/tuberculosis-related Millennium Development Goal (MDG 6) by 2015. The continuing growth of new HIV cases, insufficient access to prevention services and treatment for people living with HIV, combined with the severity of region’s tuberculosis (TB) epidemic (particularly multi-drug resistant TB) are major challenges.
On October 10-12, 2011, the Russian government, along with UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and the World Bank, is hosting in Moscow a high-level forum to discuss these challenges and ways to reach MDG 6 in the CIS. (Click here for a video, a presentation, and more from the forum.)
Unless concerted action is taken, sustained political commitment mobilized, new public/private and civil society partnerships established, and a sharp improvement in the effectiveness of HIV and TB programs realized, MDG 6 risks not being achieved. So, what to do?
Некоторые бывшие республики Советского Союза, включая страны СНГ, сталкиваются с серьезными трудностями на пути к цели развития тысячелетия в области борьбы с ВИЧ/туберкулезом (ЦРТ-6), которая должна быть достигнута к 2015 году. Основные проблемы – это продолжающийся рост числа новых случаев инфицирования вирусом ВИЧ, недостаточный доступ к профилактическим услугам и лечению для людей, живущих с ВИЧ, а также острота эпидемии туберкулеза в регионе, особенно туберкулеза с множественной лекарственной устойчивостью.