Launch of the TB Anti-Stigma Toolkit

ZAMBART have been working with International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Care International in Zambia to develop a Toolkit that tackles issues of stigma around TB.

For over a hundred years, TB has often been associated with physical frailty, death, excessive social behavior and particular groups like migrants and miners. Medically, TB is now preventable, treatable and curable; yet globally TB patients and their families continue to face stigma and discrimination. Moreover, in countries facing the dual epidemics of TB and HIV, TB stigma has deepened.

Recognising the need for tools to tackle TB stigma

ZAMBART and International HIV/AIDS Alliance have developed the TB Anti-Stigma Toolkit led by Ross Kidd - a renowned adult educator and trainer. On 23rd - 25th March 2009, the two organisations provided an overview of the recently released toolkit at the Third Stop TB Partners' Forum held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"For me, what is new are the fears about TB transmission and the amount of TB stigma within health facilities. There are so many misconceptions about the relationship between TB and HIV in Zambia. It's treatable and curable and people should be mindful of that fact." Steve Belemu, lead trainer for ZAMBART Project.

The TB Anti-Stigma Toolkit is available both in print and on the web. It contains a new set of exercises focusing on the fears and stigma associated with TB, including the link with HIV. The 19 exercises in the toolkit include: identifying forms, effects, and causes of TB stigma; basic facts on TB transmission; stigma in the health services and at home; the links between TB and HIV stigma; 'the wall of silence' towards children with TB; TB and human rights and, significantly, how individuals, families and communities can challenge stigma in different contexts and provide support to TB patients and their families.

Breaking down barriers

The team took 18 months to pilot the new exercises by training community facilitators in 19 communities in Zambia (across 6 provinces) to use the exercises with different audiences. The toolkit was written for and by TB and HIV trainers in Africa. It has been designed to help trainers plan and organise educational sessions with community leaders or organised groups to raise awareness and promote practical action to challenge TB and HIV stigma and discrimination.

Geared to everyone

The TB module is targeted at countries with high co-infection of TB and HIV and to a wide range of audiences within communities - including TB patients and family members, community leaders, TB programme volunteer and TB health workers.

The TB module is a part of the larger, more comprehensive toolkit, Understanding and challenging HIV stigma: Toolkit for action (initially developed by ICRW and Change AED, and later revised by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance).

Raising Media Debate Around TB

In June 2009, TARGETS, ZAMBART and the Panos Relay Programme co-facilitated a workshop that brought journalists and researchers together to dispel some of their preconceptions and find out about each other's work. The programme focused on building trust and highlighting the common goals shared by both the media and the research world. The workshop also aimed to build practical skills in developing stories using health research, communicating science effectively so as to make it accessible to both journalists and the public, and used ZAMBART's work on TB and social stigma to highlight the need to encourage open debate and disseminate accurate information about TB in Zambia.

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