Learn from the antiretroviral rollout, says rural health activist

TB received a much-needed spotlight at the rural health conference this year with rural health activists sharing advice on how to improve its rollout. 

Speaking at the conference, rural health doyen Dr Victor Fredlund called for the TB programme to use lessons learnt in the rollout of the country’s antiretroviral programme in its rollout. 

Fredlund is a well-known generalist doctor who has been working in the rural sector for  more than 40 years. He’s worked in Mseleni in KwaZulu-Natal from 1981 to 2021 and is now working on the Ngithume Nkosi project, which helps young professionals. 

He was addressing South Africa’s rural public health fraternity that had descended on Chintsa in the Eastern Cape to look at the rural health landscape of ways in which, against odds, have cause to celebrate for the annual conference. 

Statistics show that in rural settings, one in every 100 people have undiagnosed TB. 

But Fredlund said that there were many parallels around the interventions of the HIV and TB programmes and that these needed to be considered to understand how the sector could better advocate for TB. It was important to chronicle advocacy mechanisms that were used to make ART’s available for everyone.  He reminded delegates that it was rural health workers that were a critical part in the rollout of the TB drug Rifampicin in KZN. Those tools needed to be re-activated

His message resonated with the TB Accountability team who attended the conference for the second time. The consortium has been established to identify areas within South Africa’s TB programme where the government accountability needs strengthening. The focus of the consortium is on financial, political, and programmatic accountability. 

The team were out in full force handing out flyers to explain the consortium and sharing the latest State of TB in South Africa report, looking at ways in consolidating relationships within the Rural Health Network. TBAC is looking forward to having its’ first consortium convening in October and have recently launched its website which will eventually act as a repository and resource documenting the TB programme rollout in the country. 

To find out more on TBAC, visit our site on  tbac.org.za