REACH was awarded a grant from the Stop TB Partnership under Challenge Facility for Civil Society (CFCS) in September 2020. The project’s activities were designed to strengthen TB Mukt Vahini (TMV), Bihar’s TB survivor-led network. The overall goal of the project was to accelerate access to person-centred, rights-based and gender-responsive care for people with TB through the establishment of a sustainable peer support network and thereby the provision of comprehensive support through the care cascade.
The impact report of the project was released on 16 November 2021 at a dissemination meeting held in Patna in the presence of Shri Sanjay Kumar Singh IAS, Special Secretary, Health and ED-NHM, Govt of Bihar. Download the report here.
To mitigate the impact of the pandemic and provide critical support to people on treatment for TB, over 40 TB Champions and members of TB Mukt Vahini were engaged to provide structured telecounseling support.
In keeping with efforts to expand and strengthen TMV's presence, district chapters of the network were formed in 10 districts: Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Gopalganj, Patna, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Araria, Kishanganj, Saharsa and Supaul. A senior member of TMV acts as a district focal point for the district chapter.
National level: TB Champion and TMV member Sharda Kumari was felicitated during the World TB Day Programme in New Delhi in the presence of then Honourable Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, and senior health officials.
State level: Bihar Health Minister Shri Mangal Pandey honoured Bihar’s TB Champions Jitendra Prasad, Smriti Kumari and Ramdayal Mahto with awards for their contribution towards TB elimination in the state during the observance of World TB Day in Patna on 24 March 2021.
Members of TMV announced a state-wide anti-stigma campaign in the run up to World TB Day 2021 to urge local influencers to pledge to addressing stigma associated with TB. The campaign was formally launched on 17 March by Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Smt Renu Devi at her residence in the presence of TB Champions and the State TB Officer. 75 TB Champions from 10 districts of Bihar participated in the campaign and organised programmes in their communities. They also urged 295 local leaders to pledge to reduce TB stigma. The campaign concluded with Bihar’s Health Minister Shri Mangal Pandey taking the anti-stigma pledge along with TMV members.
In order to understand and measure the level and impact of stigma associated with TB, TB Champions of TMV carried out a stigma assessment using the Stop TB Partnership’s stigma assessment tool. Stigma assessment was rolled out in four districts - Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Bhojpur and Nalanda. A TB Champion was trained to administer the tools and carry out the data collection in each of these districts. The four TB Champions reached out to 100 people with TB, 200 family members of people with TB, 100 members of the community and 32 health care providers.
In order to strengthen TMV as a survivor-led network, a first-of-its-kind ‘Leadership Training for TB Champions’ was held in March and June 2021. The training module was developed and rolled out in collaboration with Acumen Academy, a global capacity-development institute for the social sector. 20 TB Champions, all TMV governing body and executive committee members, participated in the training. The training focused on understanding the qualities of a leader, working with different factions within a community, conflict resolution and public speaking. After the training, participants provided valuable feedback, to help refine and strengthen the module.
TB Champions participated in the 51st and 52nd Union World Conference on Lung Health held virtually. The TB Champions spoke about their role in the community in mitigating issues faced by people with TB and TB symptoms. They spoke about the telecounseling initiative and how they addressed issues like domestic violence and coordinated with the NTEP staff in the districts.
Social media campaigns featuring the work of TB Champions and members of the survivor-led network TB Mukt Vahini were disseminated every quarter. The campaigns, which included photos and video slideshows, aimed to increase public understanding of the role of TB Champions and survivor-led networks. To know more about the campaigns, visit here.
Dr B K Mishra, State Programme Officer - TB, NTEP, Bihar