Global TB Summit: Day Two
"There's no shame in contracting TB"
Day two of the Global TB Summit (30 November) began with a site visit to Ubuntu Clinic, a facility supported by Médecins Sans Frontières, which provides HIV, AIDS and TB-related treatment and support services, and ended with a strong endorsement of the Stop TB Partnership's Global Plan to End TB 2016–2020: The Paradigm Shift.
At an earlier press conference to launch the Global Plan, a speaker panel publicly expressed their commitment to support the document. The Union's Executive Director, José Luis Castro, said "A world free of TB is possible and it is possible sooner rather than later. The Union strongly endorses the Global Plan".
Dr Aaron Motsoaledi asked, “The question is, do we have the will? There will never be enough money to tackle disease. We need to prioritise. We hope that this event in Cape Town makes us wake up to the reality of TB – we can't afford not to". Dr Motsoaledi is co-chair of this week's Summit – in addition to being South Africa's Health Minister and the Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board
But the day's strongest testimony came from medical student, Zolelwa Sifumba, who contracted drug-resistant TB whilst working on a TB ward: "I contracted TB in 2012, and the treatment is as bad as the disease. We need to reduce the stigma of TB so that we can come forward if we show signs, instead of hiding away. There is no shame in contracting TB. Reach out if you know someone." There was a spontaneous round of applause in the press room as she added, "I completed my treatment in May this year."
The session was a pertinent curtain-raiser to The Union's 46th World Conference on Lung Health, which begins on 2 December. Underlining the importance of the conference, José Luis Castro said, "The time for action and commitment must be now. We can harness the power of nearly 4000 delegates from 120 countries - I am confident that this week's Union Conference will be a watershed moment in the fight against TB.”
Home page photo: Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership; Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health for South Africa and the Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board; and the Rt Hon Nick Herbert, MP from the UK and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB. Dr Motsoaledi and Mr Herbert served as co-chairs of the Global TB Summit.