Momentum builds at year-end Zero TB event in Lima, Peru

Harvard Medical School, Socios En Salud, and Advance Access & Delivery (AA&D) hosted a two-day workshop in Lima, Peru, entitled “Zero TB Initiative: Toward a Peru Free of Tuberculosis.”  on December 11-12.  This meeting brought together over 350 stakeholders to introduce the Zero TB Initiative and to strengthen and unify the resolve of civil society groups in the fight against TB in Peru.  Participants included both international and national TB experts, representatives from multiple Peruvian government agencies, community leaders, health practitioners, lawyers, activists, and front-line community health workers.  

The first day of the event, representatives from the Zero TB Initiative introduced the scientific rationale for a comprehensive approach to the TB epidemic that integrates three simultaneous sets of activities: searching actively for TB cases, treatment that supports patients, and prevention through the treatment of TB infection. International experts described cascades of care for each of these three activities, as well as experiences outside of Peru with active case-finding, treatment support, and MDR-TB treatment using new drugs. Local TB experts presented Peruvian experiences with active case-finding, treatment support, management of TB and diabetes, and conditional cash transfers for improving the management of TB contacts.    

The second day began with a discussion of why municipalities are important in the Zero TB Initiative.  Efforts being undertaken by Zero TB Initiative coalitions in other cities like Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Chennai, India; Karachi, Pakistan; and Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, and Hai Phong in Vietnam were presented. In addition, the mayor of Carabayllo, who has supported the implementation of the TB Cero Initiative in collaboration with Socios En Salud and Harvard Medical School since 2015, renewed his commitment to resource mobilization and political support in the fight against TB within his district. Afterward, local representatives from government ministries, local civil society organizations, and local TB activist organizations presented their perspectives on ways to better engage with the fight against TB in Peru. The importance and impact of collaborations outside the health sector, understanding the legal framework for TB care and prevention, and the specific responsibilities of local citizens and communities were discussed at length in presentations and discussions among the invited speakers and the audience participants.

The workshop concluded with a call to action by one of the speakers who represented a civil society group, echoing multiples such calls from audience participants on the second day of the workshop. This call to action was summarized in a declaration of commitment to activities linked directly to the Zero TB Initiative’s comprehensive approach.