TB activists launch new global coalition

27 March 2013 - A group of activists today launched the Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA), a new network that aims to put communities affected by tuberculosis (TB) at the centre of decision making in the fight against TB.

"TB knows no borders, neither should the response to fight the disease and its inherent social inequalities," said TB Activist Alberto Colorado. "I hope the GCTA will unite us all with the vision of a TB free world."

The GCTA is the product of a meeting of community activists hosted by the Stop TB Partnership in February. The activists present at the meeting recommended that the Community Task Force, a group formed of advocates serving on various Stop TB Partnership Working Groups, should be restructured into a broader global coalition to represent communities affected by TB, multidrug-resistant TB and TB/HIV.

"We welcome the creation of this coalition of TB activists from implementing countries where communities are heavily affected by TB and TB/HIV," said Dr Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. "Coverage and access to TB services must increase for everyone but especially for vulnerable and stigmatized groups, and this is impossible without the involvement of communities and activists."

In a document released today, the activists state that the objectives of the GCTA are to:

"TB activists have struggled to be heard and get a foothold into global decisions affecting patients at ground level. I believe the GCTA will be the platform for activists to speak, be heard and valued," said Blessi Kumar, Vice-Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board and Board Representative for Communities affected by TB.

TB patients and survivors, members of affected communities and TB activists working across the world are invited to join the GCTA through its Google Group.

Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership welcomed the launch of the new coalition. "In the fight against TB, the bottom line is that our efforts must translate into healthier lives for all people," she said. "Unless we work together with people affected by TB, representatives of affected communities and civil society, this will never happen. We look forward to working together to increase funding, attention and support for TB at the national and global level, and ensure that this results in better health for all."

TB activist Pervaiz Tufail said that communities and TB patients are the missing link in efforts to stop TB. "I am very excited about the launch of this new global coalition and hope that it will act as a community and patient representative body to raise TB high on the political and social agenda," he said.