Ahead of International Day of Social Justice, United Nations hosted entity based in Geneva, Switzerland, Stop TB Partnership today has called on high burden countries for tuberculosis (TB) to invest in interventions that overcome the prevalent human rights barriers that currently diminish the effectiveness of national TB control efforts and ensure social justice equality for all.
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This call comes as new evidence, published in a recent peer-reviewed publication, showing that stigma and discrimination against people affected by TB are the leading human rights barriers impeding access to TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support.
The Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership, Dr.
Lucica Ditiu, stated that the review of recent Community, Rights and Gender assessment findings from 20 countries mean that this for the first time shows evidence needed that we must have a TB response centered on social justice and human rights.
The TB Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) assessment is a community-based participatory research tool that assesses and highlights the significance of human rights, law and gender in the TB response.
It aims to establish recommendations to overcome the barriers and challenges on the journey to accessing TB services and completing treatment.
“Forty years after AIDS was first identified, the links between human rights and the spread and impact of HIV are widely acknowledged and recognized.
“Yet, nearly 140 years after the discovery of the bacteria that causes TB, attention to the rights of people affected by TB, as well as the funding needed to protect those rights, remain inadequate.
“The TB response between 1990 and 2000 was composed of packages of interventions based on the level of income of countries, failing to address the actual needs of people affected by TB.
This is completely unacceptable, and I am happy this is changing now,”
“Today, we have unprecedented evidence of the often-overlooked challenges faced by people affected by TB, which we hope will serve as a wake-up call to everyone invested in the fight to end this disease,” Dr Ditiu said.
To focus the TB response on communities, rights and gender, the Stop TB Partnership recently launched round 11 of its Challenge Facility for Civil Society (CFCS).
With US$9 million available for grants, it is the largest round yet.
Over the past 15 years, the CFCS has grown from $700,000 to $9 million in yearly funding to help TB-affected communities and civil society organizations promote and protect human rights and gender equality.
Despite the steady increase in funding still, only a quarter of the funding needs are met.
Out of the 90 countries with either high burdens of TB, TB/HIV coinfection or multidrug/rifampicin-resistant TB, more than 30 have yet to conduct a CRG assessment.
The Stop TB Partnership calls on all countries to complete such assessments and then develop and fund national Action Plans to mitigate, overcome and eliminate human rights and gender-related barriers to TB services, including stigma and discrimination.
In 2020, the Stop TB Partnership even recommended that completed such assessments and action plans be prerequisites for countries to obtain grants from donors like the Global Fund.
“Too often, people with TB are forgotten and neglected, and so are their rights,” added Ani Herna Sari, TB Survivor and Executive Director, Rekat Indonesia.
“Attention to TB and human rights, including stigma and discrimination, is essential.
But beyond attention, we need elevated financial resources.
Without a fully funded TB response, this airborne disease will continue to kill more than 4100 people every day and everyone should feel accountable for this.
Tuberculosis: Organisation calls for interventions, human rights protection