On Sunday, 24 March, St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town was lit up in red to mark World TB Day 2019.
It was part of the Stop TB Partnership’s international campaign to shine a spotlight on tuberculosis: Light up the World in Red to End TB.
St George’s Cathedral was chosen as a symbol of this year’s campaign because South Africa has adopted the “It’s Time” theme, but adapted it to say:
It’s time…for religious leaders, parliamentarians and legislators to lead the fight to end TB in South Africa
This theme was chosen in recognition of the role of faith-based leaders as powerful influencers in South Africa. It is hoped that they can contribute in at least two ways:
- By exemplifying the principles of acceptance and inclusion that underpin most faiths and welcoming and supporting those affected by TB, thereby combatting stigma associated with the disease; and
- By contacting their local clinics to invite them to perform health screenings in their congregations.
Earlier in the day, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, together with the National Assembly Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete, joined the Anglican Archbishop, Thabo Makgoba and other faith-based leaders, parliamentarians, civil society and TB ambassadors at a special 09h30 service at St George’s Cathedral dedicated to those affected by TB in South Africa.
TB HIV Care was also honoured to be involvement in the national World TB Day commemoration, which took place in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape on the 28th of March. Simphiwe Sandlana (TB HIV Care’s Stakeholder Manager) joined the provinicial steering committee in the lead up to the event.
The day started with an activation at the taxi rank at highway NU1, Mdantsane and this was followed by a political briefing. The political principals were divided into two groups and were joined by senior DOH Managers to visit either Wesbank Correctional Centre or a household of a TB survivor in Mdantsane.
At Wesbank Correctional Centre, they were provided with an overview of the innovative and creative ways TB is managed within the Correctional Centre. At the household of the TB survivor, the politicians witnessed first-hand how contact tracing and TB screening is conducted.
The World TB Day event was held at Orlando Sports Field, which is adjacent to Sisa Dukashe Stadium. By 07h45, throngs of people were lining up and ready to go through the turnstiles, development partners had pitched their gazebos for HTS services and TB HIV Care had erected tents for testing and screening. Development partners provided HTS services throughout the day.
The formal part of the programme was well attended with the main tent overflowing. The dignitaries who gave messages of support included Mr John Groarke (USAID Mission Director) and Dr Mbulawa Mugabe (UNAIDS Country Director). Both commended the country for its investment and focus on TB programmes and encouraged the attendees to realise that ‘It’s Time…to advocate for TB”. However, the highlight of the day was the keynote address by Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the National Minister of Health.
The essence of Dr Motsoaledi’s speech was that all South Africans should take an interest in knowing their TB status by getting screened and tested for TB. In addition, he emphasised that in households where a member of the family is a confirmed TB patient (or presumptive for TB), all members of the household must be screened and tested for TB.
It was a great day, many thanks to Simphiwe Sandlana and the TB HIV Care teams who helped make it such a success!