Stop TB Partnership and Kochon Foundation announce recipients of award for distinguished achievements in combating tuberculosis

31 January 2014 - Cape Town, South Africa - The Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International will share the Kochon prize, which is awarded annually to persons, institutions or organizations that have made a highly significant contribution to combating tuberculosis (TB).

The winners were announced ahead of today’s 24th Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board Meeting in Cape Town.

Haiti’s GHESKIO, founded in 1982, is one of the oldest institutions in the world dedicated to the fight against AIDS. Focusing on research, training and patient care, it has one of the largest care centers for AIDS and TB in the Americas and Caribbean.

The organization has developed a comprehensive model of prevention and care of the management of HIV and TB in resource-poor urban settings, where patients live in impoverished, densely populated areas. By integrating primary care and social support programmes, GHESKIO adopts a comprehensive approach which focuses on the family unit for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, TB, malnutrition and poverty. It has worked in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health for the past three decades. In 2000, the Haitian government designated GHESKIO a "Public Utility", a status reserved for institutions which are "essential to the welfare of the Haitian people".

Its commitment to safeguarding public health in urban areas was demonstrated in 2010 when an earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince. GHESKIO set up a field hospital for injured TB patients and for TB patients who lived in internally displaced persons camps and also trained community health workers to screen for TB symptoms in impoverished areas and makeshift camps. In the six months following the earthquake, GHESKIO documented a five-fold increase in pediatric TB cases. The total number of TB cases treated at GHESKO sites nearly doubled in the three years after the earthquake, from 1000 cases in 2009 to 1 800 in 2012.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a world renowned international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

MSF has been involved in TB care for 25 years. MSF started treating MDR-TB in 1999 and has grown to become one of the largest NGO providers of MDR-TB care. In 2012, MSF treated 29 000 patients for drug-sensitive TB in 30 countries, and 1 780 patients for drug resistant TB in 18 countries.

MSF - often working alongside national health authorities - treats patients for TB in a wide variety of settings, including poor urban areas, prisons, refugee camps, and remote rural areas.

MSF has TB projects in countries with a history of conflict and continuing unrest, including Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The MSF Access Campaign also launched a DR-TB Manifesto recently that demands improved diagnostics, treatment and finances to address drug resistant TB. The campaign Test Me Treat Me is a call from people with DR-TB and their medical providers to initiate urgent change.

The winners will each receive the Kochon Medal and share an award of US$ 65 000. The Desmond Tutu TB Centre at Stellenbosch University in South Africa’s Western Cape was the recipient of last year's Kochon Prize.