Placing TB on the national agenda 

The State of TB report was published in 2022. The TB Recovery Plan was prioritised for finding missing patients through TUTT (Targeted Universal TB Testing). Setting out key priorities and engagements set the tone for the project.

With the TB Recovery Plan being one of the main talking points within the TB landscape, the 7th SA TB Conference set the central idea of Working together to get TB control back on track. Seeking how we can reenergise the TB community in getting the TB programme back on track in the aftermath of the pandemic. The conference included interaction with the civil society community, recognising the widening ecosystem of the National TB Programme. It was certainly fertile ground for TBAC to put its mark on the map. We launched the programme with the support of some key stakeholders. Included in our satellite session were presentations and speeches from SAMRC, Treatment Action Campaign, SANAC Civil Society TB Task Team and TB Proof.

It was then the season where the finance minister gave his mid-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) forecasting economic trends. Emulating RHAP’s heritage of being a respected health finance organisation, TBAC set its sights on hosting a Mid-Term Budget TB workshop. It was put together in seeing a gap in how civil society has a limited understanding of the financing of health programmes. It saw the importance of educating stakeholders in adding more tools to their advocacy toolbox. Included were community level health workers and civil society activists, together with guests in public finance, public health, and health economists presenting. The overwhelmingly positive response was the need for better involvement in these processes, which is where the first seeds of governance were first sown.

TBAC then presented its first parliamentary submission to the Standing Committee on Appropriations of the Division of Revenue Bill in November 2022. The submission stated the need for the TB Recovery Plan to be protected and provided for. This is in light of the declining budget for the TB programme. Which then filtered through to the second submission in February 2023, where the presentation was on the TB Recovery Plan’s resilience. The case put forward was that in order for the plan to be implemented, more money will need to be allocated to provide for testing and medicines – part of all 4 steps of the recovery plan.

Calling back the seeds sown in the TB workshop surrounding governance, TBAC released their 2nd edition of the report. The report evaluated the performance of the National TB Programme. It recognised the delay in implementing the Recovery Plan at provincial level and emphasized the need for better involvement of the community in governance processes. Launched days before World TB Day, TBAC achieved traction as one of the organisations able to give practical insights into how the TB programme can be better governed. The report gave some clear questions that the TB community can consider. It was a great jumping off point as an advocacy tool for community-level engagements in the coming months.

An exciting upcoming event will be the TBAC website going live. We hope it will capture the project’s heart in seeking better accountability. We also hope that it will serve as a knowledge hub for TB advocacy. Further to that, TBAC looks forward to the conversations and refocused mandate at the UN HLM-TB (United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB) in September. A meeting we believe will be a key political accountability lever for leaders globally to recommit to TB.