TB Accountability Consortium

TB Accountability Consortium

TB advocacy gains momentum with inaugural TBAC convening

TB advocates from across the country have gathered in Johannesburg to pledge their allegiance to making putting TB on the national agenda for South Africa. 

The gathering as the inaugural convening of the  TB Accountability Consortium (TBAC) – which is a group seeking to strengthen advocacy efforts in South Africa’s TB response.

Themed Inclusivity and Access: Paving the Way for Community-Centred Advocacy, the event emphasized the importance of involving communities in efforts to address TB  and get the South African government to declare it a national health emergency.

The event was held in Rosebank, and became a nucleus of transformation, igniting fervour and a resolute pursuit of accountability in the fight against tuberculosis. Organisations that attended the convening included: Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); TB Proof; Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP); Section27; TB HIV Care; SANAC Civil Society Forum; CAPRISA; Show Me Your Number; and media personnel.

TBAC Project Officer, Sihle Mahonga Ndawonde said the convening was a significant step for TB because “it’s complexities, variations and lack of political impetus in seeing it eradicated have been some of the difficulties in seeing a coordinated effort in South Africa… Health as an ideal – needs to move to health in action.”

Delegates expressed similar enthusiasm.

RHAP Director, Russell Rensburg said that we need to commit ourselves to equality, “We need to commit ourselves to equality through TB as it affects the most vulnerable. Those who face the most discrepancies.”

Over the two day engagement, the exchange of ideas was robust and the speakers’ diverse expertise offered valuable insights.

Keynote guest speaker, Dr Kenneth Jacobs, who is the Parliamentary Committee on Health Chairman, articulated the need for political transparency in tackling the TB crisis. His call for open and transparent living as a remedy for both flawed politics and tuberculosis set an inspired tone for the discussions that followed.

From CAPRISA’s Patrick Mdletshe and his thought-provoking questions about achieving TB elimination to Section27’s Matshidiso Lencoasa and her concerns about budget cuts impacting South Africans, each query spurred an urgency for innovative solutions.

From the Treatment Action Group’s advocacy advisor, Lynette Mabote, and her advocacy for improved TB diagnostics to Dr Andrew Medina-Marino from the Desmond Tutu Foundation, with revelations about the gender equalities and disparities in TB incidence, each perspective painted a comprehensive picture of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

TAC’s Anele Yawa, with his impassioned plea for governmental change, resonated deeply, underscoring the pivotal role of community voices in effecting real transformation. Candy Jacob from TB Proof closed the day with a resonating commitment, calling for a reduction in stigma and the pursuit of health equity and emphasised the need for a better understanding and implementation of TB Preventative Therapy (TBT).

As Mabalane Mfundisi, representing SANAC Civil Society, underscored the importance of collective strength, the dedication of participants became crystal clear. Their commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and community-driven advocacy emerged as a guiding light in the ongoing battle against TB. He further recognised TBAC as an important structure in aiding the TB Task Team.

The aftermath of the convening saw the TBAC as a force gaining momentum, and their charter, now public, outlines their commitments and intentions moving forward. The spirit of unity and the shared vision displayed during the event stands as a beacon of hope in the continued struggle against tuberculosis.

The TBAC Charter is available here.