Stop TB Partnership Held a Regional Meeting in Cameroon Targeting Francophone Africa

Regional Meeting Advances Community, Rights, and Gender

Responses to Tuberculosis in Francophone Africa

Cameroon, 02 July, 2024 -  Under the framework of the Challenge Facility for Civil Society, financed by L’Initiative/Expertise France and USAID, the Stop TB Partnership, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Cameroon and DRAF TB, held a crucial regional meeting from June 11 to 13, 2024, in Yaoundé. The event, titled 'Advancing Community, Rights, and Gender for an Equitable TB Response in Francophone Africa,' gathered experts and advocates to discuss how to better integrate community engagement, human rights, and gender considerations into TB responses. The discussions focused on identifying the obstacles preventing people from accessing TB diagnosis and treatment.

During the opening ceremony, Jean-Baptiste Dufourcq, the Regional Health Advisor to the French Embassy in Cameroon, said: “We are proud and excited about our partnership with the Stop TB Partnership and the support that we are collaboratively providing the francophone Africa region through the Challenge Facility for Civil Society”.

Marlyse Abona Oyong, a TB survivor and member of the TB People Cameroon association, added: "My presence here is proof that TB is far from being inevitable. Together, we can create a future in which every person affected by tuberculosis is treated with dignity, respect, and care."

The meeting brought together over 100 participants from 15 countries and key stakeholders from Francophone Africa, including government officials, members of parliament, healthcare professionals, TB survivors, and civil society representatives. Notably, it included National TB Programs (NTPs), making this meeting exceptional as communities and NTPs worked side by side on the CRG approach. Strategic partners such as WHO, the Global Fund, UNION, L’Initiative / Expertise France, and the TB Caucus also participated. Additionally, the meeting marked the official launch of the TBWomen Francophone Africa Chapter, an initiative dedicated to promoting gender-sensitive and transformative TB responses in the region.

Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership thanked the Ministry of Health Cameroon for its collaboration during this meeting and the Regional Health Advisor and L’Initiative/Expertise France for their trust, partnership and support to Challenge Facility for Civil Society to support country ambitions to institutionalize CRG in TB in francophone Africa. 

Pr. Richard Njock, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health Cameroon said: “The approach based on communities, rights and gender represents a paradigm shift, crucial in the fight to end TB. It recognizes that to be effective the response must go beyond traditional medical interventions and include actions aimed at strengthening human rights, reducing inequities and mobilizing communities”.

Throughout the three-day meeting, participants engaged in interactive training sessions and discussions. Key topics included the use of CRG available tools and evidence to overcome barriers to access, such as the CRG assessment, stigma assessment, Key and Vulnerable Population Size Estimations, and community led monitoring - OneImpact. Other topics covered regional initiatives supporting CRG in TB, communication for impact, gaps in funding for CRG, and future funding and technical assistance opportunities. Renewed political will for CRG in TB and the development of CRG Country Roadmaps were clear outputs of this meeting.

Another highlight was the recognition of how instrumental CFCS has been in centering affected TB communities in the TB response and paving the way for the integration and institutionalization of CRG in TB. Participants shared testimonies on the support and impact of CFCS on CRG TB in various countries and discussed the importance of sustaining and expanding this support to other countries in the region.

Bertrand Kampoer, Regional Coordinator of DRAFT TB concluded: “Progress to end TB, as planned in the global agenda can be accelerated if TB responses focus on, engage, and reach the key and vulnerable populations who constitute the missing people with TB in our region”.

This regional meeting is a significant step towards achieving equitable TB responses, aligning with the goals outlined in the United Nations Political Declaration on TB and the Global Plan to End TB. The collaborative efforts and strategic partnerships formed during this event will play a crucial role in advancing CRG and ultimately eradicating TB in the region.