Throughout March, the STREAM sites and community advisory board (CAB) in Johannesburg, South Africa, raised awareness of TB, and the importance of clinical trials such as the STREAM trial, in a series of activities marking World TB Day.
Clinicians encouraged to share ideas for improving patient management in clinical trials
On March 13th, the Johannesburg CAB brought together 27 nurses, doctors and clinical researchers to discuss the practicalities of managing care of clinical trial participants. They discussed best practices around recruitment and registration of participants, communication with participants, transport of participants to trial sites, and dissemination of results.
Community outreach and screening for at-risk populations
More than 80 people attended an outreach event at the University of Johannesburg, where attendees learned about TB clinical trials such as STREAM, and CAB members distributed educational materials. Organized by Helen Joseph Hospital, 53 attendees were tested for TB and 64 were tested for HIV and offered counseling.
Another event organized in partnership with NGO ‘Jozi Hlomileo’ at Kathrada Park Community focused on encouraging TB screening and treatment for children living with TB-infected adults. The event also reached out to men in the community, in recognition that men are less likely to visit health clinics for screening than women.
In Diepsloot Township, a densely populated township in the north of Johannesburg, an outreach event was conducted to screen adults for TB. The township’s homeless population is at increased risk of TB due to their socioeconomic circumstances. As a consequence, during the World TB Day event, STREAM community engagement stakeholders visited a homeless shelter, where information about TB was shared with the staff and residents. Residents were also offered TB and HIV screening and counseling.
World TB Day in Johannesburg
At an event for patients and staff organized by the STREAM CAB and partners at Sizwe hospital, TB survivor Tsholo shared her experience of living with TB and undergoing treatment. She encouraged patients not to lose hope but to continue fighting and complete their treatment.
The event included a talk about the history of TB, its symptoms, and how it is diagnosed and treated. Mr. Ntuli, the event MC, encouraged everyone to take responsibility for their own health, saying, “We need to stop the spread of TB amongst each other and be responsible for our health, seek support and take TB treatment.”
STREAM CAB members spoke of the important link the CAB creates between researchers and affected communities. CAB member, Chris Ramashiya, said, “There has been significant improvement thanks to research with patients with MDR-TB. Patients now have access to a new drug called Bedaquiline.” Fellow CAB member and traditional healer, Makhosi, advised patients not to mix traditional medicine with TB treatment. She encouraged patients to stick to their course of treatment, and consult with health care workers for support.
Radio show to raise TB awareness
Dr. Jaclyn Bennett, a STREAM investigator, and STREAM CAB members ended the World TB Day activities by joining a radio show on UJ FM, a community radio station based at the University of Johannesburg, to raise awareness about TB. Dr. Bennett discussed the history of TB, symptoms, how it is diagnosed, treatment, and explained why it is so important for people to participate in TB clinical trials. CAB members talked about their work to raise awareness of TB within the community. “The best way to ensure that people in the community take charge of their health is by equipping them with information,” explained Dr. Bennett.