Unless the tuberculosis (TB) advocates reach out to decision makers to impress upon them the urgency of strengthening TB care and control programmes, the global economic meltdown is likely to threaten to reverse the gains made in TB care over past decades.
"I believe we should not lower our sights one bit. Rather, we should broadcast far and wide irrefutable arguments for more and better TB control now. The fight against TB is more than a humanitarian cause--it is also a smart investment, at a time when many investments seem insecure"- had said Dr Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, in an editorial on the Stop TB Partners' Forum blog.
Time is running out. How can the world begin to see TB care as a smart investment?
The cross-cutting linkages of TB control to other development issues - need to be more highlighted, more pronounced and worked upon in terms of advocacy, outreach and engagement. For example, those working on poverty, health systems, HIV, and other connected issues, need to say the same--"TB control is a smart investment!"
For instance, at least in high burden TB countries, with TB continuing to the biggest cause of death for people living with HIV (PLHIV), the AIDS advocates should be the lead partners in TB care initiatives --they are demonstrating the leadership in some communities but this certainly needs to be happening more often wherever synergy is most appropriate. TB and HIV programmes need to join forces to improve TB and HIV responses locally.
With the economic recession taking its toll in the developing world as well, the need to forge effective and genuine partnerships with different stakeholders was rarely so compelling! Promoting greater transparency and participatory approaches in our efforts to engage allies in TB care and control, might prove to be definitive on how effectively we can convince the world that TB care is a smart investment.
(The author is a World Health Organization (WHO)'s WNTD Awardee 2008 and a part of Stop-TB eForum Resource Team of HDN. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)