The MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG), has a long standing interest in tuberculosis (TB) occurring in households and has over the years maintained the TB research platform through core funding and a program grant focused on children with TB. The research studies TB cases and their contacts through a family centred approach. With the ultimate aim of achieving elimination of TB disease, the research helps to understand how TB is transmitted within communities, as well as how the diagnosis, treatment and control measures could be improved.
Under the theme “Unite to End TB”, MRCG celebrated World TB Day in collaboration with the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Program (NLTP) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of The Gambia. The commemoration took place at Sinchu Alhagie on Thursday 7th April 2016, attended by over 500 people including school children, representative from the National TB Programme, Government, Red Cross, Scout band, MRCG staff, Press Officers and the community of Sinchu Alagie.
The World TB Day is celebrated globally to increase and maintain awareness of TB through engagement of communities and other stakeholders. In today’s celebration here in The Gambia, we aim to provide the community with simple but powerful information on tuberculosis and also respond to their questions concerning the disease.
Researchers from our team addressed the cause of TB, how it spreads in the communities, how to recognise the symptoms and what to do when someone has TB symptoms. An important issue that would also be addressed during the celebration is the stigma, which TB patients face within the communities and how we could all unite to end it. We intend to leave participants with sufficient information about TB disease and how they could participate in current efforts to control the disease at the community level within the country.
In her remarks Professor Beate Kampmann, Vaccines and Immunity Theme Leader said “We work jointly with the NLTP and the communities towards ending TB in The Gambia. The main role of MRCG in uniting against TB is to bring our science to the communities, to enable the development of better drugs, the use of improved diagnostic tools and improved vaccines to treat TB patients within our communities.”
Over the years, the MRCG TB research platform has worked with collaborators within and outside The Gambia. Our ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of The Gambia, through the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Program has been key to many research outputs that have fed back into the system to benefit TB control in the country.