BY FRANCIS OKOYE
In a webinar organized by citizen news service, titled ‘does faith help in fighting TB’, experts from various sectors examined the role faith played in fighting TB.
According to Shobha Shukla, Managing Editor CNS, for those who often work and live in poor countries, IUATLD has started new methods and ways to ensure that people living with TB can access treatment, diagnosis and care…. (one of such new methods and ways is that of using faith to fight TB).
Speaking at the webinar, one of the experts, Jody Boffa, a community based researcher and epidemiologist at Desmond Tutu TB center, Stellenbosh University, Cape town, South Africa and Vanier Doctoral Research scholar at Dept of community Health Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, said that as a strong Christian and with her engagement with communities, she realized the important role faith plays in TB, However, she noted that African Traditional churches and traditional healing are incorporable with one another.
Rev Nicholas Busani Bhengu, who presides over the uniting Presbyterian church in caluza community of Pieter maritzburg South Africa and member community research advisory team for a project on the uptake and effectiveness of isoniazid preventive therapy in a region of high TB, revealed how some oversea NGO found him in the community and how they have been working together in TB field. He said that faith work hand in hand with medical expertise to fight TB. Catherine Mwauyakufa a community voice in role of faith in HIV care and CNS correspondent Zimbabwe talked of her own experiences in using faith to fight disease.
Subrat Mohanty, coordinator, project Axshya of IUATLD talked about the project as an innovative civil society imitative to improve access to TB care in India, supported by Global Fund and operating in 285 districts, 40 urban sites and 19 states with target of poor/backward, urban slums as population covered.
Subrat explains that the use of faith to fight TB, i.e religious institutions is ideal, because religious institutions have strong/wider networks, influence and appeal to adherents.
He cited example of project Axshya which works among religious leaders in Indian, who are Muslims. They reached 1700 students and Teacher of madras with information on TB, 300 sputum test collected. Local religious schools called Madara in 15 district of Dhar with crucial TB information including symptoms, free treatment and care were reached.
Using faith to fight in India means using them Madaras, khankan and mosque existing in state to spread message of TB-this can also be applied to other religious groups and institutions in other parts of the world.
Also nutrition and social support through institutions (religious) for TB patients is highly recommended.