Under the theme Unite to End TB: Leave no one behind, MRC Unit The Gambia in collaboration with the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Program (NLTP) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) of The Gambia, came together to mark World TB Day.
Tuberculosis (TB) is still a major global health problem. One of the key gaps in TB control is the ability to diagnose TB accurately and early. There are about 4 million patients who are missed each year – closing the gap requires research, dedication and community awareness of TB.
With the drive to increase and maintain the awareness of TB in The Gambia, World TB Day is commemorated annually on 24th March. As part of this year’s celebrations, a community outreach activity was organised at the Hotel School in Kanifing, on Friday 10th March, followed by a press conference on Friday 24th March and concluded with a community event on Wednesday 29th March 2017. The celebrations on Wednesday 29th March 2017 took place at the Semega Janneh Hall in Tallinding and was well attended by the local communities, NLTP, MOHSW and MRCG staff.
Speaking at the event, Professor Beate Kampmann, Theme Leader, Vaccines and Immunity, spoke on the importance of ending TB as she highlighted that “to end TB every single person in a compound and in the community is needed to make sure that those who are sick get treatment and those who are exposed get screened and possibly receive prevention. There is no shame to have TB, there is just shame to do nothing about it.”
Dr Jayne Sutherland, Head of TB Research, Vaccines and Immunity Theme, highlighted the significance of uniting to end TB which she said, “Is essential for reducing stigma, increasing health-seeking behaviour and ultimately reducing TB transmission.”
Mustapha Sima, an NLTP representative, highlighted the existing partnership between MRCG and NLTP to increase health seeking behaviour and reduce the stigma associated with TB in The Gambia.
During the celebrations, the local community was provided with information in the form of a drama by the Tuberculosis Support Group which underlined how they could participate in controlling the disease at the community level. The daylong event also addressed the issue of stigmatisation through an interactive question and answer session, on the role of the community in the fight to ending TB in The Gambia.