Global Indigenous Stop TB Initiative working group calls for solidarity on World TB Day

On World TB Day, Tuesday 24 March, the Global Indigenous Stop TB Initiative (GISI) working group, part of the Tuberculosis (TB) section of The Union, issued a statement calling for solidarity as the global community fights the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

The GISI working group aims to increase the involvement of indigenous people in TB prevention, diagnosis, and care programmes with a goal of reducing the burden of TB among indigenous groups, while improving the cultural safety and accessibility of TB programmes locally and globally.

While COVID-19 may be dominating agendas globally, now is not the time to neglect work in TB prevention and care, the statement advocates. People affected by TB need our care now, more than ever. For both COVID-19 and TB, the principles of effective programmes are shared: work in partnership with communities, respect and incorporate local cultural approaches, and be equitable and accessible in provision of care.

The full statement is reproduced here below:

A time for solidarity, World TB Day 2020

The Global Indigenous Stop TB Initiative (GISI) focuses on decreasing the burden of tuberculosis (TB) among the world’s Indigenous Peoples. An estimated 370 million Indigenous Peoples around the world who already face an increased risk of TB stemming from social barriers such as inadequate housing, poverty and limited access to health services.

TB has been with us for millennia. COVID-19 is a disease that is new to mankind. Both remind us that we are all connected by breath. Both remind us that those who are disadvantaged in society are often at greatest risk for these kinds of infections.

The United Nations, in the 2018 statement from the High-Level Meeting on TB, recommended prioritising TB efforts among Indigenous People. 

Key recommendations for addressing TB include;

  • Knowledge gathering in ways which reflect Indigenous concepts and measures of health.
  • Ensuring access and equity in the provision of services; available care does not ensure accessible care.
  • Building of partnerships between Indigenous Peoples, organizations and governments to implement Indigenous driven solutions to end TB.

We recognise that many health care providers who are part of TB programmes globally will be necessarily joining the COVID-19 response. But during this global emergency, we must not neglect our work in TB prevention and care. Our patients need our care now, more than ever. For both COVID-19 and TB, the principles of effective programmes are shared: work in partnership with communities, respect and incorporate local cultural approaches, be equitable and accessible in provision of care.

On April 23, 2020 we will be hosting a webinar to share knowledge and support solutions for ending TB, globally, including among Indigenous Peoples. Details of which can be found at: membership.theunion.org/gotowebinar/webinars

GISI is a working group of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). The Union works with its members and partners to support health systems and ensure services for TB care are available to all. We appreciate The Union’s support in making our gathering accessible to the wider community outside of its membership. We invite Indigenous Peoples worldwide that are interested in joining our webinar, or joining GISI, to contact Dr Wendy Wobeser, by emailing wlw@queensu.ca

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