World TB Day 2020 | COVID-19
Today is World TB Day! This is a day we advocate for improved TB diagnostics, access to treatment and reduced stigma. This year, we are also drawing attention to COVID-19.
India still has one of the highest TB prevalence globally. Additionally, according to the India TB Report 2019, India has 27,000 Multi-Drug Resistant cases. In response to the current prevalence of TB in India, the government has reiterated the ambitious target for eliminating TB by 2024, reflected in the National Strategic Plan. However, the current situation for TB diagnostics requires improved government action.
A majority of TB patients are now choosing to access private treatment to avoid stigma. But only a proportion of cases of TB were handled correctly by the private sector, due to mis-diagnosis, diagnostic delay and treatment failure. Civil societies are calling for improved diagnostic capacity, improved treatment access and the filling of vacancies within the RNTCP. The theme for World TB Day 2020 is “It’s Time”. We believe it’s time to Test; it’s time to Talk; and it’s time to End Stigma.
Unfortunately, given the current global pandemic of “coronavirus”, we were unable to run an event to celebrate World TB Day this year. This is why Blossom Trust and the Rainbow TB Forum are making COVID-19 a primary focus, publishing an COVID-19 infographic campaign on our social media, to ensure that the community is well informed and well equipped to deal with the outbreak. This is especially relevant today, due to the increased risk of severe infection for individuals with TB.
COVID-19, or the ‘coronavirus’, is a new virus that causes a cough and fever, but can also cause respiratory failure. This makes it particularly severe for patients with TB, as well as individuals with health conditions such HIV who have a low immune system, diabetes or cancer. Elderly people are also more at risk.
The virus spreads in droplets from infected people, on surfaces or by contact. This is why we must all take measures to protect ourselves and the people around us: everybody MUST wash their hands regularly, with soap, for 20 seconds, and NOT shake hands or touch other people. Everybody must also stay away from groups and crowds and minimise use of public transport, and stay at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from other people, in what is known as “social distancing”. It is essential that everybody takes these guidelines seriously to keep our communities safe.
This period is unfamiliar for everyone, also for our Dayspring children, but we are taking the advice seriously at Blossom Trust and at Dayspring. The Blossom Trust office is closed until further notice. The schools have also closed, so the children are spending all their time at the Dayspring home until the situation changes. To ensure their safety, the gates are remaining closed so there is limited interaction with people living outside the home, and the people inside are asked to stay inside as much as possible.
We hope by self-isolation, we can keep the children safe from COVID19 and prevent the infection with the virus. We are doing our best to follow the government advice, and we urge everybody to do the same. In this way we will be able to protect the most vulnerable individuals, including those suffering with active or latent TB, and keep our communities safe.
Project duration: March 2020