TB Alert is the UK’s national tuberculosis charity: it is the only charity that focuses on TB both in the UK and overseas – in India, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. This provides TB Alert with a unique perspective in order to address issues around TB that are common both to low incidence countries like the UK and high incidence regions such as Africa and Asia.
TB Alert's work focuses on:
- raising public and professional awareness about TB, addressing barriers to treatment, and providing support to patients during their treatment
- bringing together statutory health services, voluntary organisations and people affected by TB to plan and deliver better TB services
- advocating for the policy and resources to improve the care of patients and the prevention and control of TB.
TB Alert's vision is the control and ultimate elimination of TB. Its mission is to increase access to effective treatment for all.
TB Alert India
In 2004 TB Alert registered a sister organisation, TB Alert India, which is now at the forefront of national efforts to address TB working in close alignment with the Indian Government’s national TB programme.
TB Alert works hand in hand with TB Alert India to develop, fund and implement a range of projects to tackle TB in the country. TB Alert India works across two states in central and southern India, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which comprised a single state before their division in June 2014.
Working closely with the Indian government, TB Alert India helps ensure people are treated and cured by the national TB programme. The organisation brings together local grassroots organisations, traditional healers, pharmacists, women’s self-help groups, people living with HIV, ex-patients and government health services. Together, they raise awareness of TB and refer people with symptoms to local health centres for diagnosis and treatment.TB Alert India is also a key partner in Axshya, a multimillion-dollar TB project funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the leading global funder of TB programmes.
TB Alert’s work in the UK focuses on making sure people with TB are diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible, and supporting them through treatment, to ensure that they don’t become seriously ill or pass TB on to others.
The Truth About TB programme
TB Alert's flagship TB awareness raising programme, The Truth About TB, brings statutory bodies together with the voluntary organisations that are embedded within and trusted by communities at risk of TB. By working together, these groups are better able to raise awareness of TB within at-risk communities and support them to get the care they need. In 2010, TB Alert launched a TB awareness raising website as part of the programme: www.thetruthabouttb.org.
TB Alert provide support for people through their TB journey through:
- peer support given by members of the TB Action Group.
- patient information leaflets, that supplement the advice and information given by TB clinicians
- small grants to help vulnerable patients with the associated costs of TB treatment
- a TB information service for people with questions about TB
The TB Action Group
The TB Action Group (TBAG) is a network for people affected by TB in the UK that provides support for people during their treatment and recovery from TB. Members also use their insights and stories to raise awareness of TB and to advocate for improved TB services.
Professional awareness raising
TB Alert offers online TB training for GPs, practice nurses and nurse practitioners through the Royal College of GPs website, along with a TB Specialist Nurse Resource Pack to use in GP practice meetings.
TB Alert also offers TB training to third sector and statutory service organisations that provide services for communities affected by TB.
TB Alert has been working in India since 2000 to help the government reach the most vulnerable communities and give them access to life-saving treatment. TB Alert's sister organisation, TB Alert India, was formed in 2004 and has since been at the forefront of wide-ranging efforts to fight TB.
Educate, Prevent and Treat
In October 2015, TB Alert launched the Educate, Prevent and Treat project to improve the health of women, children and people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Virudhunagar and Kanchipuram Districts of Tamil Nadu, India. These groups face many social and structural barriers to TB diagnosis and treatment, such as their health being considered a low priority or specific stigma and discrimination.
TB Alert’s project, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, works in partnership with the Blossom Trust to support marginalised groups to influence TB service provision and overcome barriers to accessing services.
Axshya – TB free
Axshya (meaning TB free), is a major India wide TB initiative funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the leading global funder of TB programmes. TB Alert India carries out Axshya’s work in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, managing the project in seven districts.
Axshya’s programmes aim to improve the rates of TB diagnosis and treatment for vulnerable people in under-served communities.
The Delhi DIVINE TB Project was launched in the Burari and Sant Nagar districts of Delhi in March 2008 by TB Alert’s sister organisation, TB Alert India.
The project aims to strengthen India’s national TB programme at a grassroots level, by providing community-based TB diagnosis and treatment facilities.
TB Alert India’s PRATAM (Pharmacist and rural healthcare provider TB activism) project in Telangana State provides TB training for community-based health providers. These providers are often the first point of call for people who fall ill in India, though many lack medical qualifications. As they are part of their local communities and hold their trust, they are perfectly placed to reach people with TB quickly, supporting early diagnosis and treatment and reducing the spread of the illness.
TB Advocacy Project (TAP)
The TB Advocacy Project (TAP) ran between 2011 and 2014, with funding from the Department for International Development, to improve access to TB services for under served communities in Andhra Pradesh.
The project worked with partners to reach rural and urban poor people to increase their knowledge and awareness of TB-HIV co-infection and their access to free government TB-HIV services. The project also created and strengthened community groups that advocate for improved TB diagnostic and treatment services at project and state level.
The end of project evaluation, which was compiled by an external agency, showed that the project reached 12% of the local population and exceeded its targets, particularly in respect of the number of people diagnosed with TB, HIV or TB-HIV coinfection.
Community challenge to stop TB
In 2013, TB Alert India was awarded funding from the Stop TB Partnership’s Challenge Facility for Civil Society (CFCS), which works to empower local communities to fight TB, for a one-year project to increase the participation of TB-affected people in national decision making and to identify and address barriers to TB care.
Integrated TB-HIV in Thyolo
In 2015, TB Alert launched a new project to integrate TB and HIV services in the Thyolo district of Malawi. Though Thyolo is just one of 28 districts in the country, it is home to nearly a quarter of Malawi’s PLHIV.
The project will reach 168,000 people in the district through:
- TB and HIV awareness raising
- improved and integrated TB-HIV services
- support for families affected by TB and HIV.
Community empowerment in Mulanje
In April 2014, TB Alert launched a new community empowerment project to get people diagnosed and into effective treatment as early as possible. The project aims to reduce the number of TB deaths, contain the development of drug resistance in the area and prevent poverty.
The project follows the World Health Organization’s TB ENGAGE approach, which recognises that the best way to reach a community is from within that community. This integrated community-based approach covers all aspects of TB, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.
The project will help people in more than 500 villages throughout the district by:
- providing information on the prevention, testing, treatment, care and management of TB
- supporting diagnosis through 100 sputum collection centres and six new microscopy centres
- supporting TB affected families with nutrition education and help to establish ‘backyard gardens’
- training microscopists, establishing new microscopy centres and supporting enhanced case detection
- testing people living with HIV for TB.
TB Alert's JournAIDS project ran between 2013 and 2014 in the Chiwamba area of Malawi, where poverty levels are particularly high and health services are poor. Many people in the region lack even basic information about TB and HIV/AIDS, and are unable to access vital testing and treatment for these conditions.
In partnership with local NGO JournAIDS, a network of journalists, and the local community group CYDSE, the project reached over 5 million people with awareness raising messages about TB and HIV/AIDS. To develop the programme, project journalists visited health centres to learn about TB prevention, care and treatment. They then targeted electronic, print and radio media with stories about TB and its association with HIV.
TB and HIV: inside and out
In April 2014, long-standing TB Alert partners, Chichetekelo, launched a year-long project to address TB and TB-HIV in the Mpima and Mukobeko prisons in Kabwe. TB Alert’s technical advice and support underpinned Chichetekelo’s success in securing the project’s grant funding from the Stop TB Partnership‘s Challenge Facility for Civil Society.
Through the project, prisoners learnt about TB and TB-HIV, so that they could seek help if they experienced symptoms. Prison staff and authorities also received TB training: to enable them to refer prisoners with possible TB symptoms to appropriate services, to address conditions that encourage TB to spread, and to advocate for the rights of prisoners at national level.
Community TB-HIV advocacy
TB Alert’s Community TB-HIV Advocacy in Zambia (COTHAZ) project ran from 2010 to 2014, and involved seven local NGOs working across six areas of the country, to raise awareness of TB-HIV. The project was funded by the Department for International Development and reached over 6 million people in the Kabwe, Katete, Luanshya, Masaiti, Lusaka and Kitwe districts.
The COTHAZ project worked at three levels:
- community TB awareness raising
- local advocacy for better TB services
- national government engagement to secure funding and support for improved TB services.
TB-HIV action in Chimanimani and Mutasa
In October 2015, TB Alert launched a new 3-year project to reduce TB and HIV in the Manicaland province of Zimbabwe.
The project works in the rural Chimanimani and Mutasa districts where rates of diagnosis and treatment for TB and HIV are low, even by Zimbabwe’s standards. Using a model developed in-line with the WHO’s ENGAGE-TB approach; which calls for the integration of community-based TB and HIV services; the project aims to turn this situation around.
Murambinda Mission Hospital TB Programme
TB Alert funded the Murambinda Mission Hospital Tuberculosis Programme from 2002 until early 2015. Although it has just 120 beds, the hospital is one of only two hospitals serving Buhera District in Zimbabwe’s vast Manicaland Province. The district is home to 200,000 people, the majority of whom earn a meagre living as subsistence farmers.
Murambinda’s TB project helped people to receive and remain on treatment by:
- training local community volunteers, who are known and trusted by their communities, to identify symptoms, refer suspected cases to local clinics and support patients to take their medication
- training and supporting local health workers to develop and manage community outreach activities and to collect and monitor TB data
- strengthening information systems to understand TB in the local area, so that clinics never ran short of drugs and to reestablish treatment for patients that stopped too early.
TB Alert seeks to influence policy-makers and decision-makers in the UK, across Europe, internationally and through field programmes in Africa and India. TB Alert's philosophy is to treat advocacy and programmes as two sides of the same coin.
TB Alert's fieldwork helps people and communities in their day-to-day lives, whilst its advocacy is aimed at ensuring the policies and resources are in place to achieve the same outcomes on a wider scale: to prevent TB making people ill, to provide the care everyone affected by TB needs and to control the spread of the infection.
Sir John Crofton 1912-2009
As Emeritus Professor of Respiratory Diseases and Tuberculosis at Edinburgh University in the 1950s – a place and time in which TB was the leading cause of death in young people – Sir John led the team responsible for bringing TB under control. His ‘Edinburgh Method’ was the first demonstration of mass control of TB, which was subsequently instituted in 23 European countries. Sir John was a leader in the work of the World Health Organisation, a celebrated author and an influential teacher. Sir John was knighted in 1977 and awarded the Union Medal in 2005 by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, for his contributions to TB control. To the end of his life in 2009, at the age of 97, Sir John continued as a tireless campaigner on TB issues and fundraiser for TB Alert.
Sir John's legacy continues to support TB Alert’s life-saving work through The Sir John Crofton Fund To Fight TB