Global campaigners say discrimination, stigma hampering TB fight
FILE PIC: Tuberculosis Vaccine. /Getty Images

FILE PIC: Tuberculosis Vaccine. /Getty Images

Tuberculosis eradication in high-burden countries of the global south could become a mirage amid rampant stigma and discrimination among patients seeking treatment, international campaigners said at a virtual forum on Friday.

Lucica Ditiu, the executive director of Stop TB Partnership, an international health lobby, said that entrenching the rights of patients suffering from the bacterial disease is key to ensure they had access to quality treatment and care.

"We must have a TB response centered on social justice and human rights," Ditiu remarked ahead of the International Day of Social Justice that is observed on Feb. 20.

She noted that world leaders who attended the 2018 UN high-level meeting on TB resolved to prioritize human and gender rights while combating the highly infectious disease.

According to a study published in the peer reviewed Health and Human Rights Journal in December 2021 covering 20 TB high burden countries from Africa, Asia and eastern Europe, stigma and discrimination has discouraged patients from visiting health centers to receive diagnosis, treatment and care.

The study, which was carried out from 2018 to 2021, noted that access to quality, timely and affordable TB treatment and care was hampered by income gap and discrimination based on gender.

In particular, the study cited marginalized demographics like the urban poor and migrant workers as least covered by TB control interventions despite their higher vulnerability to the disease.

Nevertheless, the study noted that global war against TB has undergone transformation in the recent past, emphasizing the critical role of a human rights, gender and community-centered approach as a pre-condition to realize success.

Maurine Murenga, a Kenyan member of Global Fund Communities Delegation said that a partnership involving policymakers, funders, industry executives and community-based advocates is key to fight stigma directed at TB patients.

Murenga said that new laws should be enacted to ensure that access to key services like testing, treatment and nutritional support is available to TB patients in high-burden African countries reeling from pandemic related disruptions.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency

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