The Aurum Institute was honored to host the South African launch of the Lancet Commission Report on Tuberculosis: Building a TB-Free World on behalf of the National Department of Health on Tuesday, March 26 at Tembisa Hospital.
This report, launched globally on March 21, marks the end of almost a two-year journey with significant contributions from TB leaders in public health and science, including South Africa’s Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Prof Gavin Churchyard and South African researchers. The Commission Report encourages us to “seize the moment”, by increasing our country’s commitment to achieving the End TB Targets and building on our political momentum to end the TB epidemic. The launch focused on the key themes in the report, translating for the audience on what this report means for South Africa.
The speakers were welcomed by Dr Lekopane Mogolade, CEO of Tembisa Hospital. Speakers at the launch included South African Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi who is also the report and the chair of the Global TB Caucus. Our CEO, Professor Gavin Churchyard who contributed significantly to the report as a commissioner. A Community Health Worker(CHW), Portia Muedi from TB Proof, presented an advocacy letter to the Health Minister addressing the urgent need to elevate CHWs status to TB Champions as they are critical in bridging the gap between the Department of Health and communities. The last speaker was Zoleka Swakamisa, an HIV Positive ex-clinical trial patient at Aurum and LGTBI+Q activist who bravely spoke about the challenges of defaulting in taking ARV’s and TB drugs and pleaded for a shorter easier regimen for both HIV and TB.
The event was well attended and it was evident how South Africa has shown incredible leadership in the fight against TB. It’s now time to step up that commitment to ensure that TB truly becomes a disease of the past. The Health Minister quoted the words of Madiba, “The world has made defeating AIDS a top priority. This is a blessing. But TB remains ignored. Today we are calling on the world to recognize that we can't fight AIDS unless we do much more to fight TB as well.”