TB Accountability Consortium

TB Accountability Consortium

Calls for greater collaboration and action arise at TB Imbizo

TB advocates in the Western Cape have called for  greater collaboration to help improve the TB response in the country.

The call came during the KESS TB Imbizo which was held in Khayelitsha at the beginning of March.

The KESS TB Imbizo was organised by the TB Proof, TB HIV Care and Anova NGOs in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health and the City of Cape Town. It aimed to showcase progress, discuss data, research findings, and potential solutions around TB. TB remains a pressing national health challenge, claiming upwards of 50,000 lives in South Africa annually.

Although the imbizo shared lots of helpful data, it also showed why including community voices could help to improve the TB response. Recognising that TB impacts communities at their core, the imbizo acknowledged the need to elevate the lived experiences and perspectives of those most affected.

Neliswa Nkwali, chairperson of SANAC Civil Society Forum’s People Living with HIV emphasised the importance of having the community voice in the room. “We have patients who are living with TB, and we have TB survivors, but where are they here?” asked Nkwali, who is also a TAC member.

She said civil society did not want to be impressed by the government, and were tired because often what was being preached was not being implemented.

While community involvement in the TB response was one issue that took centre stage, there was also a focus on some of the challenges that have been plaguing TB response. One of these is budget cuts.

It was mentioned at the imbizo that the Khayelitsha Eastern Sub Structure budget is reduced by 16% which will affect district health services including the response to TB.

The overarching message of the imbizo was a positive one. There has been significant strides in TB medical research and treatment options, which has offered hope in the fight against this infectious disease.

TBAC programme manager Russell Rensburg said that the TB imbizo was important because it symbolised collective determination and optimism. “By integrating data with community perspectives, we pave the way for effective strategies, ensuring equitable access to prevention, treatment, and support services for all. To end TB, we must engage with those affected and infected. This gathering was just the beginning, launching deeper collaboration towards a TB-free future,” he noted.