21 September 2010

UN Week DML: Panel on TB

  • Craig David – Musician
  • Lucy Chesire – TB/HIV patient and activist from Eldoret, Kenya
  • Lee Reichman – Academic authority on TB
Much of the discussion involved two points.  First, lack of access to adequate drugs and second, stigmas that exist in communities in regards to TB.  The lack of access point, unpacked, hit on a lot of causes.  Reichman noted that TB is an “un-sexy” disease.  While HIV/AIDS and malaria get all of the attention,
TB is the Cinderella that is in many ways should be an equal concern but is shunned because of the louder and uglier stepsisters.  This lack of awareness leads to less interest, less resources, less money and so on.  In addition, the stigmas which exist in countries, as Craig David pointed out, can create a conundrum making it hard to increase community awareness and the effective implementation of programs when people are unwilling to identify themselves as having TB.
Quick Thoughts:
A lot of this is not new news.  In fact, they discussed what is already well know by those who have a basic understanding of TB.  However, the problem is that not everyone has this baseline understanding.  So, there must be a concern when it comes to creating awareness and education within the donor world.  Part of the time was spent discussing how there are very few pharmaceutical companies who are willing to make a concerted effort to combat TB.  Because of this, treatments are not as cutting edge as they are for the sexy diseases.  In the end, how can greater education span this gap?  Not much was discussed on this point and I venture to think it is because there is not an easy answer (well I actually know that is why because we would not have this problem if there was in fact an easy answer). 
This session drives, for me, home the importance of donor education. 
Next up is a panel on ICTs with Linda Raftree and Wayan Vota!

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