Cultural event to create awareness about TB

Urvashi Prasad, CNS Correspondent, India
Photo credit: Urvashi Prasad
The Stop TB Partnership, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of India and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) organised a cultural event in Geneva on May 21, 2016 (in the lead up to the 69th World Health Assembly) to create awareness about TB and the need for all stakeholders to act urgently to eradicate the disease.

The event was attended by representatives from various institutions, including the Global Fund and World Health Organisation. It included traditional dances from India and Indonesia— two countries that have a very high burden of TB. During the event, Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, highlighted the need for educating ourselves and others about TB and dispelling various myths that persist. “We need to tell the stories of TB”, she said. TB is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind and continues to claim over 1.5 million lives worldwide every year. Misconceptions about the condition as well as the social stigma attached with the disease have contributed to its unacceptably high mortality rates.

Paulina Siniatkina, a survivor of multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) from Russia, showcased some of the paintings from her solo exhibition ‘Hold your breath’ at the event. Being a TB survivor herself Paulina spoke about the challenges faced by those battling the condition. The people portrayed in her paintings had also fought TB and wanted to inspire others who might be going through the same experience but were hesitant to talk about their struggles openly. “My main goal is to fight the taboo around TB”, said Paulina, who is now hoping to take her exhibition to several other countries as well.

N.N. Prasad, Additional Director General, WIPO spoke about the need for constant innovation in order to end the global TB epidemic by 2030. As Paulina said while sharing her story, we should be able to talk about TB openly. TB is not an individual’s problem but one that affects the entire society. Events like this can help to mainstream the dialogue around TB, enable people to talk more openly about their condition and encourage others to seek timely diagnosis and treatment.

Urvashi Prasad, Citizen News Service - CNS
May 30, 2016