Bhubaneswar “Tuberculosis (TB) survivors and Champions are frontline soldiers in the fight against TB and can play an important role in supporting people with TB in Odisha”, said Dr. Hara Prasad Pattnaik, Special Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of Odisha. He was speakingat the valedictory session of a two-day review meeting held in the city today to mark the end of a six month mentorship programme. The meeting was organised by REACH, as part of the TB Call to Action Project, in collaboration with the State TB Cell and with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Also speaking at the valedictory session, Dr. M.S Munnir, Joint Director, TB said, “The TB Programme has benefitted due to the work of TB Champions. We will continue to need the active participation of TB Champions in patient support activities.”
The meeting was attended by 25TB Champions from 20 districts of the state. In the six-month period, they provided psychosocial support to nearly 2000 people with TB, and help identity people with symptoms and connect them to diagnostic services.
“My life turned upside down when I had brain TB. I was partially paralysed and my dream of being a Kuchupudi and Bharatanatyam dancer was gone. The mentorship programme helped me rebuild my confidence and focus on my life beyond TB and the distress I faced. I hopeto get back on stage in in the nextsix months,”said Ms. B. Chinmayee, a TB Champion from Ganjam district.
Another TB Champion, Brundaban Dhal from Boudhdistrict said, “Five members of my family were affected by TB. When I met people with TB, I understood the difficulties they were facing and was able to boost their morale to help them complete their treatment and not give up in their fight against TB.”
The TB Champions have also interacted with the families of people with TB to enlist their support and to educate them on TB prevention. They sensitised over 26,000 people through one-to-one and group meetings, to make them aware of TB. As a part of the mentorship programme, they have conducted anti-stigma campaigns and involved elected representatives across the state.
“We designed the mentorship programme to demonstrate that TB Champions can play a valuable role in providing emotional support and information to people with TB, and in improving awareness of TB among their communities. We are confident that the TB Champions will remain leaders in their communities and continue working to end TB,” said Ms. Smrity Kumar, Project Director, REACH.
Dr. B. K. Panda, DR-TB Consultant, Dr.Bikash Patnaik, Consultant, TB-HIV, Dr.Binapani Nanda, MO, State TB Cell, Odisha and Dr.RadhaTarlekar, WHO Consultantalso participated in the meeting.
Odisha’s TB Champions have formed a network of survivors called Kalinga TB Survivors Network, through which they will work to reduce the burden of TB in the state.