Fiona Ruzha, H-Metro Reporter
Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe has incorporated celebrities and TB survivors in raising awareness, eliminating fear and stigma as the country moves in achieving the 2030 target of eradicating TB.
Sixteen celebrities/ influencers and six TB survivors will run as TB Champions for a year as they aim to make TB a more interesting issue to address through various medium.
Speaking during the handover of certificates to TB Champions and launching of Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe website, Jointed Hands Welfare Organisation executive director Dobald Tobaiwa said despite the best efforts of many individuals and organizations to raise awareness on tuberculosis, it remains an invisible disease.
“Tuberculosis is widely and mistakenly considered a disease of the past even though it is still a global pandemic.
“This is partly because TB rates in the high-income world are at an all-time low, helping to create a perception that it has been beaten.
“In the low-income world, where the toll on human life of TB is staggering, the main obstacles are lack of funding and stigma.
“To close this gap, the community needs the support of celebrities that with their voice can motivate the general public to push politicians and other decision makers to fund TB programme in their own countries,” he said.
Broadcaster Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, who is one of the TB Champions said their mandate was to communicate TB message in an attractive way for people to understand.
“I am grateful that we had this workshop because it has orientated us in the kind of direction we are going.
“I understand that my mandate is to communicate this message to make TB awareness something that all people can understand by making it more attractive.
“The idea with attractive is that people are not talking about it enough yet this is the highest killer in the world.
“So these are the basics we need to address and it’s good that the room is full of singers, journalists and people from all sectors,” she said.
“As TB Champions we should lobby Government to allocate more money to TB because fundraising doesn’t go far so that’s when we need to meet half way between lobbying and fundraising.”
Internationally recognized Zimbabwean poet, musician and actor Albert Nyathi said reaching the 2030 target was possible if all their campaigns were conveyed in all the 16 languages for people to understand.
“Reaching the 2030 target is possible if we reach out to marginalized communities .
“It should be possible if our campaigns use different languages as we already know that in this country we have 16 languages.
“However, largely our campaigns have been in three languages English, Shona and Ndebele but I think important national messages of this nature should be conveyed in all languages for people to understand,” he said.
Lady Chevrons captain Marry-Anne Musonda said her mandate was to disseminate information with regard to TB through her various platforms and during sporting events.
“My main agenda is to use my voice in educating and informing people about TB because a lot of people view TB as poverty disease which I don’t think it is for it is like any other disease.
“Since I am a cricketer, there will be need to inform people about sport and health during sporting events because TB is still and ongoing pandemic,” she said.