Connecting 'silos': Interdependence is key to #endTB in sustainable development era

When major weak-spots go beyond the purview of health ministry, inter-sectoral programming becomes critical to progress towards ending tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, globally. Indian government has committed to end TB by 2025 - a welcome political commitment indeed - but warrants urgent and unprecedented actions to muscle up the required pace to keep this promise.

Drug checking and harm reduction: It could save lives

Dr Ian Hodgson, CNS Correspondent
At the 25th Harm Reduction International Conference (#HR17)  held in Montreal earlier this week, over 1000 people gathered to address one of the great public health challenges of our time: the lack of adequate support for people who use drugs, and an increasingly hostile and economically austere environment that denies basic services to a vulnerable population. Delegates at the conference include activists, researchers, community workers, and people who use drugs.

Do not leave the migrants behind!

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Eni Lestari, Chair of International Migrants Alliance (R)
and Shobha Shukla, CNS Managing Editor (L)
There are an estimated 232 million international migrants (UN DESA, 2013) and740 million internal migrants (UNDP, 2009) in the world. They form a significant part of the world's working class and it is difficult to imagine any country that can stand alone in this global world, without the contribution of migrants. Even though countries' economies have benefited from them, yet they are not recognised as a legitimate workforce by governments and are taken as a threat to their economic stability.

[Podcast] Why is tobacco control critical for development?


[Watch webinar recording] [Listen or download audio podcast]  This webinar in lead up to 2017 World No Tobacco Day Webinar featured experts: Michelle Syonne Reyes Palmones, Technical Advisor (Philippines), International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union); Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, WHO Director General's WNTD Awardee 2005; and Cloe Franko, Senior International Organizer, Challenge Big Tobacco, Corporate Accountability International and Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) leadership. [Listen or download audio podcast]

[Webinar] Tobacco endgame is an imperative for sustainable development


Legacy of Dominic D'Souza lives on

Last week marked the twenty-fifth death anniversary of Dominic D'Souza, India's first person living with HIV who had waged a brave battle against HIV stigma and discrimination. Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of AIDS Society of India (ASI) who was among the first few doctors who came forward for HIV care when first case got diagnosed in the country, said "The news of Dominic D'Souza who was jailed in Goa, on being found HIV positive, was brought to our [Indian Health Organization, now known as People's Health Organization] notice by his friends Isabel Vaz and Anesia Colaso."

Protests mark the 18th meeting of the regional comprehensive economic partnership

Amid growing opposition against the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Philippines, and across Asia Pacific, held actions and demonstrations to protest against this regional trade deal currently under negotiation between 16 participating countries.

People with asthma can lead a normal life

Pritha Roy Choudhury, CNS Correspondent, India
Oh No! Not another attack again! Keshav (name changed) felt a tightness in his chest that pulled him down to the chair. It was 7:45 in the morning and by this time he should have been at the metro station to reach office by time for a meeting scheduled for 10:45 am. The intensity of the attacks are increasing these days, he murmured. Keshav had missed taking his inhalation as the drug that he uses to control the asthma attack is not easily available.

You may not cure but control your asthma

Tuyeimo Haidula, CNS Correspondent, Namibia
Asthma is a neglected tropical disease which cannot be cured but it can be treated and controlled. Good asthma control means a person can live life normally with no or very minimal symptoms. These were the sentiments shared by experts during a recently organised webinar by Citizen News Service (CNS) for media in lead up to World Asthma Day 2017.

Cleaning up the air we breathe

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
My first personal brush with the severity of asthma was several years ago, when  one of my students suddenly started gasping for breath in the middle of her Physics Practical final examination of Class 12. We were clueless about the cause of her sudden affliction. Other than making her sit in the open air and force her to drink water, we did not know what to do. A frantic phone call to her parents elicited that it was an attack of asthma as she had forgotten her inhaler at home. Thankfully she normalized after a while. But the memory of those agonizing 15 minutes still remains etched in my mind.

Webinar: Tobacco endgame is imperative for sustainable development

[Watch webinar recording] [Listen or download audio podcast] The theme of 2017 World No Tobacco Day could not have been better: Tobacco is a threat to development. The World Health Organization (WHO) too believes that this theme will demonstrate the threat the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries, including the health and economic well-being of their citizens.

Bringing TB out of the shadows

So said Jose Luis Castro, Executive Director of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union). TB related stigma and discrimination still lurks in our communities and blocks access to existing care services. Jose shared several examples where TB patients felt isolated, frustrated and cornered enough to resort to extreme acts of desperation like suicide.

Winning the war against asthma

Francis Okoye, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
Asthma affects more than 300 million people world wide. The Global Asthma report 2014 says that asthma is a major global health problem. Although there is no permanent cure for it, it can be treated and controlled. Good asthma control means no or very minimal symptoms, and a low risk of asthma attacks or other poor outcomes. More importantly, good asthma control means that a person can live life normally.

#IndiaVsTB: Keeping workforce healthy is also a smart business strategy

Later this month, health ministers of our governments will convene for World Health Assembly (WHA) to shape the agenda of the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as elect its new leader as Dr Margaret Chan's tenure as WHO Director-General comes to an end. During Dr Chan's leadership of WHO, adoption of the WHO End TB Strategy in WHA 2014 and world leaders coming together to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at UN General Assembly 2016, are among the key milestone moments.

How will we avert asthma deaths without definitive diagnostics and universal access to effective treatment?

(Watch webinar recording, listen or download podcast] [हिंदी] The Government of India along with other governments have committed to reduce premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases (including asthma) by one-third by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs). The National Health Policy 2017 of India also promises to "reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025".

[Podcast] Civic spaces are crucial for fully achieving Agenda 2030, say two senior government representatives


[Watch video interview] [Listen or download this audio podcast]
Two senior government officials share why developing civic spaces is crucial to help governments and all development actors, for fully achieving Agenda 2030.  HE Judy Taguiwalo, Minister of Social Welfare and Development, Philippines; and HE Brendan Rogers, Ambassador of Ireland to Thailand; were in conversation with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla, at the "Breaking Grounds, Taking Roots: The Istanbul Principles @7" in Thailand. [Listen or download this audio podcast]

[Focus] Civic spaces are crucial in achieving Agenda 2030: Government representatives



Deep condolences on sudden demise of beloved friend Akhilesh Shukla

We express our deepest condolence on the sudden demise of our beloved friend Akhilesh Shukla. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a major concern and Akhilesh's loss is also a grim reminder of how age at which CVDs strike are slipping downwards. An MCA, Akhilesh was managing his own IT company in partnership, since 2011. We knew him not only for providing prompt computer hardware and software services to CNS, but also for his active involvement with our Vote For Health campaign.

Can Istanbul Principles help develop civic spaces for implementing Agenda 2030?

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Julia Sanchez, President-CEO, CCIC (left)
Shobha Shukla, Managing Editor, CNS (right)
[Watch video interview] [Listen or download this audio podcast] The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) meet on 'Breaking Ground and Taking Root: The Istanbul Principles @7' provided a space for civil society organisations (CSOs) to reflect on the importance of Istanbul Principles (IPs) in charting common strategies and mobilizing constituencies to strengthen efforts to improve the effectiveness and quality of CSO development work. 

[Podcast] Istanbul Principles, shrinking civic spaces and Agenda 2030: Insights from Julia Sanchez


[Watch video interview] [Listen or download this audio podcast] Julia Sanchez is the President-CEO of Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and Co-Chair of CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE).  She was in conversation with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla, at the "Breaking Grounds, Taking Roots: The Istanbul Principles @7", which happened recently in Bangkok, Thailand. [Listen or download this audio podcast]

[Focus] Can Istanbul Principles safeguard civic spaces for achieving Agenda 2030?



[Podcast] World Asthma Day 2017: Universal access to asthma care is imperative for Agenda 2030


[Listen or download this audio podcast] [Watch webinar recording] This is the World Asthma Day 2017 Webinar recording. People with asthma can live normal lives if their asthma is managed properly. But low awareness, health systems challenges and inaccessible asthma care are among the major factors that contribute towards poor management of asthma, adding to avoidable emergency hospitalization at times too. [Listen or download this audio podcast]

[Webinar] World Asthma Day 2017: Manage asthma well and live life normally!


[Focus] Equal, accountable and effective partnerships can help deliver on Agenda 2030



[Podcast] Equal, accountable and effective partnerships are essential for Agenda 2030


[Listen or download this audio podcast] Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director, Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) was one of the key participants at the "Breaking Grounds, Taking Roots: The Istanbul Principles @7", a potentially game-changing meeting of hundreds of civil society champions from around the world along with some government representatives among others, which happened recently in Bangkok, Thailand. [Listen or download this audio podcast]

[Call to register] Webinar in lead up to World Asthma Day

[Watch webinar recording] [Listen or download this audio podcast] Please be welcome to join us in this special webinar in lead up to 2017 World Asthma Day. People with asthma can live normal lives if their asthma is managed properly. But low awareness, health systems challenges and inaccessible asthma care are among the major factors that contribute towards poor management of asthma, adding to avoidable emergency hospitalization at times too.

[Focus] Do not leave migrants behind in Agenda 2030, says Eni Lestari


[Podcast] Do not leave migrants behind in Agenda 2030, says Chair of International Migrants' Alliance


[Listen or download this audio podcast] Eni Lestari is the Chairperson of International Migrants' Alliance, which is the first-ever global alliance of organizations of grassroots migrants, refugees and displaced peoples.   Eni Lestari was one of the key participants at the "Breaking Grounds, Taking Roots: The Istanbul Principles @7", a potentially game-changing meeting of hundreds of civil society champions from around the world along with some government representatives among others, which happened recently in Bangkok, Thailand. Eni Lestari was in conversation with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla. [Listen or download this audio podcast]

[Podcast] #IndiaVsTB: Film stars and public health experts call upon ending TB stigma and catastrophic costs


[Listen or download this audio podcast] This CNS Podcast episode features 3 Indian film-stars Suniel Shetty, Sonu Sood and Suhail Khan, and Executive Director of International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union) Jose Luis Castro, along with Deepti Chavan, who is not only a TB survivor but also champions the cause for improving TB care for all those in need. They were key speakers at the TB Free India Summit held on World Health Day 2017 in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. [Listen or download this audio podcast]

[Podcast] Collective action can help accelerate the pace to #endTB, says Rhea Lobo at #IndiaVsTB


[Listen or download the audio podcast] Rhea Lobo, a noted international award winning film-maker and a freelance journalist, is also a TB survivor. She shared her insights on how to accelerate the pace to end TB at the potentially-game changing inter-sectoral meet, TB Free India Summit  (#IndiaVsTB) at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, on World Health Day 2017 [Listen or download the audio podcast].

Indian HIV doctors pay tribute to untimely death of noted HIV scientist Dr Mark Wainberg

Pioneering Canadian HIV researcher Dr Mark Wainberg, died of drowning in Bal Harbour, Florida, USA, at the age of 71 years. Asthma attack took away this top HIV scientist. "His family was with him, and his son tried to rescue him, was able to locate Dr. Wainberg, and began to swim back to shore with him. He was transported to the hospital in Miami, where he was pronounced dead" shared Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of AIDS Society of India (ASI).

Breaking the news to children living with HIV

Catherine Mwauyakufa, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
(First published in Manica Post)
Parents and guardians with children on anti retroviral therapy (ART) have a lot to consider before initiating them on life-long medication. Medication for diabetes mellitus (DM) is easily explained to a child as compared to those on ARVs. Normally, a child with diabetes will understand the condition better as compared to a child who is HIV positive and has to take ARVs for life.

Trading indifference on the triggers of TB is amplifying the burden globally

Roger Paul Kamugasha, CNS Correspondent, Uganda
As we applaud the effort of global players in the fight against TB for the immense resources invested to end TB by 2030, let me, as a TB activist, strongly grieve because of the persistent and pseudo ignorance exhibited  by our global planners. This year’s Global Theme is “Unite to End TB” with the slogan of “Find the Missing Patients with TB”. I find these appropriate and concur with the phrasing. It is in black and white that about 9 million people get TB every year around the world and nearly 2 million deaths are caused by TB alone. This means with every passing minute, 3 persons die of TB and it is  also the leading killer among HIV infected people, responsible for the 30% deaths of HIV positive people.

Inter-sectoral and well-coordinated battle to #endTB is imperative to deliver on Agenda 2030

[हिंदी] Growing political commitment of governments globally to #endTB is indeed welcoming but governments need to walk the talk too to #endTB and deliver on promises of integrated sustainable development by 2030.

India to finalise a national strategy plan to end TB

Aarti Dhar, CNS Correspondent, India
India will shortly finalise a national strategy to end tuberculosis (TB) in the country by 2025; this was announced by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda to mark the International TB Day on March 24. The 'daily regimen' of TB drugs, which has been found to be more effective than intermittent treatment, will also be rolled out across the country this year. As of now, this regimen is being implemented in only five states.

The struggle against TB continues

Clarity Sibanda, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has become the latest, and one of the few countries, in the region to roll out the latest TB drug called Delamanid, to treat difficult case of multi drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB. The new TB treatment program will see patients taking one drug per day as opposed to between 12 and 16 tablets. The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa said the introduction of the new drug is anticipated to help the country improve cure rates.

"Storms make trees take deeper roots": Insights of a cancer survivor with indomitable spirit

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
- CNS Special on World Health Day 2017 -
"One night, in the summer of 2013, I felt a twitch in my breast. It was something like if you hurt your toenail. Having a family history of cancer, I did not want to take any chance, and promptly saw my doctor the very next day. He reassured me that there was nothing to worry, more so because there was no lump."

[Podcast] Accountability of all development actors will strength response-ability


[Watch video] [Listen or download podcast] Azra Saeed from Roots for Equity in Pakistan is also the Chair of International Women's Alliance, a global network of grassroots women. She spoke with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla at the "Breaking Grounds, Taking Roots: Istanbul Principles @7" meeting organized by CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) [Watch video] [Listen or download podcast].

[Focus] Accountability of all development actors will strength response-ability



Breaking Ground, Taking Roots: Can Istanbul Principles make SDGs a transformative agenda?

A potentially game-changer meet opened in Bangkok on 30th March 2017 to review the progress made on increasing effectiveness and accountability of civil society organisations (CSOs) since adoption of Istanbul Principles seven years back and to brainstorm how can Istanbul Principles make Agenda 2030 a transformative one.

[Podcast] Justin Kilcullen calls for increasing effectiveness and accountability for all development actors to help achieve SDGs


[Watch video interview] [Listen or download audio podcast] Justin Kilcullen, European Representative to the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) and Chair of Social Justice Ireland was in conversation with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla at the "Breaking Grounds, Taking Roots: Istanbul Principles @7" meeting organized by CPDE and partners. Justin also represents the Irish NGOs in CPDE framework.  Justin speaks about how Istanbul Principles have been helpful in increasing effectiveness and accountability within the civil society in past seven years since their adoption, and shares some challenges too. He believes that Istanbul Principles can truly make Agenda 2030 a transformative agenda. [Watch video interview] [Listen or download audio podcast]

[Focus] Can Istanbul Principles help in increasing effectiveness and accountability?



North-South perspectives on Istanbul Principles and Agenda 2030 for sustainable development

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
The eight Istanbul Principles, adopted in 2010 by over two hundred civil society organisations (CSOs) from 82 countries, constitute a statement of common values and approaches to guide CSOs' work.

Concerted action is needed to end TB by 2030

Urvashi Prasad, CNS Correspondent, India
There are 9.6 million new cases of TB and 1.5 million deaths due to it, annually. Also, an estimated 500,000 people develop multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) every year. As highlighted by Paul Jensen, Director of Policy and Strategy, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), in a webinar organized by CNS, TB, despite being fully curable, kills more people than any other infectious disease in the world.

Accelerating efforts to end TB by 2030

Francis Okoye, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
In a special webinar organized by Citizen News Service (CNS), it was  reiterated that governments of more than 190 countries, by adopting the sustainable development goals (SDGS) at UN General Assembly in Sept 2015, have globally committed to end TB by 2030. This commitment to end TB is in line with the WHO End TB strategy, which was adopted by World Health Assembly in 2014.

World TB Day 2017: Getting closer to the promise

Alice Sagwidza Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
Swaziland joined the world in commemorating the World TB Day this March 2017. In so doing, many stakeholders from both health and non-health sectors, as well as private and public sector, gathered in different regions, charging forward with renewed energy and commitment towards stopping TB. As Dr Mario Raviglione, Director, Global TB Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) shared in a webinar organised by CNS, this is a critical time where all players need to come to the table.

SDGs should not be the icing on business-as-usual 'cake'

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is convening the 4th session of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD 2017) from 29 to 31 March 2017, in Bangkok, Thailand. The APFSD is expected to define a regional roadmap to support member States' implementation of the 2030 Agenda over the next 15 years.

'Finish line' not in sight: Struggle intensifies for sustainable development of all

The governments of over 190 countries promised to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2015. But progress to keep these promises, has been, at best, patchy. Several community leaders from Asia Pacific region who were actively participating in 2017 Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development (CSO Forum of APFSD) in Bangkok, Thailand, feel that business as usual cannot continue if we are truly committed to translate SDGs into development justice for all.

TB treatment and cure: Can faith help?

Dr Richa Sharma, CNS Correspondent, India
“We have tried to do everything but there has been no improvement. My husband had to take so many medicines for so many months, and yet there was no relief. We finally gave up and went to a faith healer in our village who did some animal sacrifices and put some ash on his forehead. We also went to this famous temple and got pooja done. But even that did not work, says Saroj, a 55 year old woman whose husband has been sick on and off for several years.

Indian network of HIV experts honour Dr Gallo for his contribution to AIDS virus discovery

Because Nobel prize had forgotten to acknowledge one of the three top scientists who should have shared the credit for AIDS virus discovery, the honour conferred upon Dr Robert Gallo by AIDS Society of India (ASI), India's national network of HIV medical experts, becomes so much more important. In 1984, research groups led by Dr Gallo, Dr Luc Montagnier at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and Dr Jay Levy at the University of California, San Francisco, all identified a retrovirus as the cause of AIDS. The AIDS Society of India (ASI) conferred upon the prestigious ASI Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr Robert Charles Gallo in recognition of his pioneering role in advancing pathbreaking HIV science over the decades.

Faith alone cannot cure TB

Alice Sagwidza Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
“All my life, I prayed to God and he answered my prayers. I prayed for a job and I got it, I prayed for a husband and he gave me. When we were struggling to have children, I prayed and fasted for two years and now I have three healthy children……even now I will pray that God cures us.” These were the words of Zanele Dlamini (Name changed), a recently widowed 36 year old female from Sidvokodvo, some 60 km from the capital Mbabane in Swaziland. Zanele was diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) in September 2016, she is also HIV positive. Her husband Muzi (Name changed) succumbed to the same ailments in mid-January this year.

[Podcast] Multi-sectoral response is crucial to accelerate progress to #endTB by 2030


[Watch YouTube recording] [Click here to listen or download this audio podcast] This is the webinar recording in lead up to 2017 World TB Day. Governments of more than 190 countries globally have committed to end TB by 2030 by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at UN General Assembly in September 2015. This commitment to end TB is in line with the WHO End TB Strategy which was adopted by World Health Assembly in 2014. [Click here to listen or download this audio podcast]

[Webinar] World TB Day 2017: Unite to #endTB



Using faith to not just fight TB but many other diseases as well

Josephine Chinele, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
Motivational talks could move people and change their behaviour. But the use of their faith authority will move them more. This is what the experts have resorted to in order to fight against TB across the world. Experts who made presentations at a webinar hosted by Citizen News Service (CNS) indicate that faith leaders can play a crucial role in fighting against diseases such as TB.

Healers abuse people’s faith

Catherine Mwauyakufa, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
(First published in Manica Post)
Acceptance of any condition is the first step to recovery. Denial is fatal. Acceptance is a process, and not an event. So acceptance of any condition is of importance to getting well. Not everyone has to disclose publicly, but disclosing to a loved one, or a buddy, helps. Everyone needs a medic buddy to help adhere to treatment. My spouse is my medic buddy who reminds me to take my medication.

Using faith to fight TB

Francis Okoye, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
In a webinar organized by CNS, titled ‘Does faith help in fighting TB?’, experts from various sectors presented their views. One of the experts, Jody Boffa, a community based researcher and epidemiologist at Desmond Tutu TB centre, Stellenbosh University, Cape Town, South Africa, said that as a strong Christian and with her engagement with communities, she realized the  important role faith plays in TB care and control.

Faith leaders can help fight TB

Locadia Mavhudzi, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
TB has been identified as a major threat to global health security. In this regard it is imperative to take an inclusive approach towards its prevention, treatment, care and support. Research has proved that one's faith really help in fighting against the disease. The Seventh Day Adventist Church wellness programme in the Midlands province in Zimbabwe has gone a long way in promoting care and control of HIV and TB. The high burden of TB and HIV in mining townships across the province has prompted the church to provide a safe haven for care and support amongst the infected population.

Ending TB is going to be hard but "hard is not impossible"

[Watch video interview] [Listen or download the podcast] [हिंदी] Wisdom of Nelson Mandela, "It always seems impossible until it's done", has only deepened in relevance and context when we review the fight against tuberculosis (TB), a curable disease which continues to be one of the top ten causes of death globally.

Does faith help in fighting TB?

Dr P S Sarma, CNS Correspondent, India
Human beings live in the world of hope–hope for a better tomorrow. This hope depends upon, and is generated from faith- faith in oneself, faith in the fellow beings and, above all, faith in God. Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever we work for a worthy goal, we exercise faith.All over the world, efforts are being made to combat TB— an infectious disease that kills 2 persons every 3 minutes.