At the Stop TB Partnership's first TB Awards Gala in Liverpool this evening, along with four other awards, the 2016 Kochon Prize was presented to 'unsung hero' Ms. Galina Zaporojan.

24 October 2016, Liverpool, United Kingdom - The 2016 Kochon Prize was awarded this evening to Ms. Galina Zaporojan of Speranta Terrei, a Moldovan patient support organization. This year, the prize sought to celebrate, for the second year, "Unsung Heroes Working to End TB." The honor fell to Ms. Zaporojan who even though she is a music teacher, has worked every day with Speranta Terrei for the last 10 years. She joined the organization after her own son developed TB and was assisted by Speranta Terrei. She was nominated especially for her work linking the hard-to-reach homeless population of Balti, Moldova to diagnostic services and treatment.

"When my son fell ill with TB, I was struck and shocked. As like many other people, I thought TB was something that happened to others, and not to me and my family. But it did, it happened to us. And we had to fight it. This is why I decided to work with Speranta Terrei, helping homeless people in Balti to gain access to diagnosis ans treatment for TB." said Ms. Zaporojan in her acceptance speech. "This award proves that it is worth dedicating your life to what you believe in, to helping others and that people care and appreciate it. With the award money, Ms. Zaporojan plans, among other things, to buy a van to transport people affected by TB to and from doctor's appointments and training moderators.

"Galina is there for people affected by TB when a solution needs to be found for an unpaid bill or temporary shelter. For every patient, she has words of reassurance to keep them on track during the lengthy and complicated TB treatment," said Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, "I am humbled by Galina’s dedication to end TB, and we are privileged that we can celebrate her work here tonight and I am even more humbled that there are thousands like Galina in the world, our unsung heroes."

The Kochon Prize, consisting of a USD 65,000 award, has been given annually for the past 10 years to individuals and/or organizations that have made a highly significant contribution to ending TB, a disease that is curable but still causes the deaths of three people every minute.

The Prize is fully funded by the Kochon Foundation and was handed out by Chairman Kim, who traveled from South Korea to take part in this event.

This year, for the first time the Kochon Prize was handed out during a TB Awards Gala, which took place in Liverpool on the sidelines of the Union World Conference on Lung Health. Aside from the Kochon Prize, four other prizes were awarded.

For the first time, an Imagine prize was awarded for a forward-looking TB intervention, it was given to the South African National TB Program for its innovative and sustainable efforts to combat TB.

The 2016 Innovation Prize went to Asha Kalp, an Indian NGO working with tribal and indigenous people who often have poor access to TB care services. Asha Kalp employed community health workers to provide TB screenings and treatments in the communities. The Stop TB Partnership Pakistan was awarded the World TB Day 2016 Prize for their advocacy efforts and events on and around World TB Day. Finally, a Partners Engagement Prize was given to five members of the Stop TB Partnership selected by random draw, for participating in the yearly partners survey.

A lifetime of service

Ms. Zaporojan first got involved with Speranta Terrei through her son, who received support from the organization during his own TB treatment. Out of gratitude for her son's recovery and the work of the Speranta Terrei, she decided to become a treatment supporter or 'moderator.' Ms. Zaporojan visited patients at home, listening to them, reassuring them during their long and complicated treatment courses and relaying their questions and concerns to the doctors. Over time, her extensive experience with people affected by TB made her a mentor to other moderators. When in 2013 Speranta Terrei started a new project aimed at reaching the homeless population in Balti, Moldova, Ms. Zaporojan was the person for the job. She runs the project, but also has been on the ground, locating the homeless people, convincing them to go for TB testing and assisting them throughout their treatments. Within the first year, she helped around 375 homeless people: a person every single day.