Latin American and Caribbean activist network of people affected by TB launches in Peru

31 August - Geneva, Switzerland - The Stop TB Partnership is pleased to announce the establishment of REDTBLAC, (Red de Personas Afectadas por Tuberculosis en Latino América y El Caribe), a newly formed activist network of people affected by TB from the Latin American and Caribbean region. The formation of the network is the result of the TB advocacy meeting co-organized by Stop TB Partnership, Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA) and Socios en Salud, with the support of USAID and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Bringing 30 people together from 11 countries (Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela) in the region, it took place from 16-18 August in Lima, Peru. This is part of the global effort started in 2015 and led by Stop TB Partnership with partners of ensuring at an unprecedented level the creation and support of national, regional and global networks of activists among people affected by TB.

REDTBLAC is now the fourth regional network of TB advocates supported by the Stop TB Partnership and GCTA, strengthening the power and deepening the movement of TB advocates who act strategically and collectively within complex social, scientific and political environments. It follows the first UN global meeting of TB community activists hosted by Stop TB Partnership in November 2015 and three subsequent regional meetings in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Asia Pacific and Africa, all of which resulted in the formation of highly motivated TB advocacy networks.

"As our community movement expands, connects and deepens and our activism strengthens our push to drive and inform TB responses is coming into effect", said Blessina Kumar, CEO, GCTA.

"As we prepare for transition from Global Fund support, the full engagement of community and civil society actors is critical. The time therefore for collective, informed and community-driven advocacy in the region is now", said Dr Leonid Lecca, Director, Socios en Salud.

Like in previous regional meetings, this was a highly interactive educational forum for people to connect real-life experiences of TB to broader political, social, scientific and advocacy spaces. By placing local experiences within national and the regional context, people built and deepened their understanding of the role they can individually and collectively play to accelerate the vision towards ending TB by 2030.

"Politics in TB has been the main driver of action as well as inaction, said Alberto Colorado, TB activist and member of REDTBLAC. Capacitated and resourced communities and organizations that can engage in the political space is key to an effective response," he said.

The participants learned about and validated their place within the advocacy space, strengthened their communication and advocacy skills and experienced the power of sharing a common experience, which inspired and led to the formation of REDTBLAC, its steering committee and the identification of advocacy priorities to develop its long term transformative strategies especially looking towards the United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB.

"With the support of Socios en Salud and GCTA, REDTBLAC has the potential to be a strong and coordinated TB advocacy movement. At Stop TB Partnership, we look forward to support and further engage with REDTBLAC to serve people affected by TB and country programmes," said Dr. Jacob Creswell, Team Leader for Innovation and Grants at the Stop TB Partnership.