World TB Day 2005 - 24 March 2005
'CREATE' -ing an impact on HIV/TB in South Africa
Heralded by singing and dancing school children and about 1500 revellers Archbishop Desmond Tutu launched the ZAMSTAR project (news page) in Kayamandi township near Capetown and opened the Desmond Tutu TB Centre at the University of Stellenbosch. The Archbishop, who contracted tuberculosis as a teenager and spent 20 months in bed recuperating stated “We can defeat TB, we can defeat HIV/AIDS. We can use the same strategy – let us come together”.
The Zambia and South Africa Tuberculosis and AIDS Reduction Study 'ZAMSTAR' plans to empower communities to seek care for their tuberculosis, providing direct access to diagnostic services and increasing community awareness. The project will provide additional services within the households of TB patients: TB tests as well as free HIV counseling and testing. Zamstar is part of the Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS and TB Epidemic (CREATE).
TB programmes accelerating ART scale up
After his recent tour of Malawi, Steven Lewis, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS, stressed the importance of the TB programme in Malawi in scaling up access to ART and exceeding the "3 by 5" targets by aiming to place 80,000 PLWHA on ART by end 2005. Extolling the "remarkable commitment" of the Malawi government to ART scale up, he emphasized the importance of Malawi's adoption of a policy of routine HIV testing and focusing on HIV positive TB patients. (See UNAIDS/WHO Policy Statement on HIV Testing).
He praised the Malawi approach to treatment scale up as one of the 'most thorough and impressive' he had seen. TB is not just part of the HIV problem in Malawi, the TB programme is an important part of the solution to ART scale up. The TB programme provides the model for ART scale up with TB programme staff supporting the supervision, monitoring and evaluation of ART across the country. This close collaboration between the TB and HIV programme to provide comprehensive prevention, treatment and support to people living with TB and HIV follows the WHO Interim policy on collaborative TB/HIV activities.
Full information on the World TB Day 2005 can be found at http://www.stoptb.org/WTBD2005/.
- By Carol Francis