In the past two years Ethiopia had remarkable success by involving local civil society organizations (CSOs) in fighting TB.
In Addis Ababa’s densely populated slums, there is a higher rate of TB transmission and greater vulnerability of disadvantaged populations than in the rural areas of Ethiopia. Women’s organizations are very active in these urban slums. These CSOs are already engaged in HIV awareness-raising, reducing gender-based violence, and mother and-child health promotion. The women’s CSOs reach out to the women through traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies.
Children run a high risk of TB infection when living in a house with someone who has untreated pulmonary TB, especially children under five years old. KNCV Ethiopia is working hard to raise public awareness of the risk of TB among children in collaboration with the National TB Program and the TB coordinator for Addis Ababa. A training curriculum has been developed to teach the CSO educators to recognize the symptoms of TB and to refer anyone with suspected TB. Community educators learn how to mobilize people, to counter stigma and to advocate for better access to patient-centred services.
Based on the success of the past two years, the National TB Program is now also embracing this approach. KNCV has been asked to apply this model to other urban settings in the country. It is crucial to create more educational materials in Ethiopia’s many languages and for more pictorial information. The materials can be used by opinion leaders in the community to urge people with symptoms of TB to seek early diagnosis and to make sure TB patients adhere to treatment.