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Controlling TB requires public awareness

Public Health Watch, set up in 2004 by the Open Society Institute, supports civil society monitoring of government tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS programmes. For this report, its researchers — academics, journalists, activists and development workers — prepared assessments of national TB policies in Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania and Thailand.

Each assessment contains specific recommendations for governments, community and nongovernmental organisations, and international bodies. Although there are country-specific issues, taken together the five evaluations reveal overarching themes regarding TB and TB co-infection with HIV.

Neither government officials nor the general public in the countries studied have much awareness of the basic facts about TB or about co-infection with HIV. There is widespread ignorance of how TB is spread or that it is curable, which contributes to stigma around the disease.

Communication is poor — the media rarely covers TB and national TB programmes are not skilful in conveying key messages to the public.

Community participation emerges as key to TB control, although these efforts are rarely given enough domestic or international support. The report emphasises the need for public engagement in designing, implementing and evaluating TB policy.

Public Health Watch publications are prepared by civil society organisations and health policy actors across the world. They are overseen by an international advisory group of TB and HIV/AIDS experts.

Link to full article in Open Society Institute