Riders for Health NewsThursday, March 24, is World TB Day and as members of the Stop TB Partnership, Riders for Health will be raising awareness of a disease that affects 11 million people every year.
The slogan for the day is "On the move against tuberculosis" and no one epitomizes this as much as Riders for Health.If we fail to step up action today, about 40 million people will become ill with TB and at least eight million will die unnecessarily between now and 2015. Almost a third of these will be in Africa. TB is an ancient disease, but today it is curable. In the 21st century, no one should die from TB.A third of people with TB are not reached with accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. In Lesotho, Riders for Health is helping to mobilize TB officers so they can reach villages to provide care to patients in their own homes. This helps reduce the spread of the disease, and also helps to ensure that patients take the drugs they need at the right time and do not miss any doses.But most importantly, it is also essential that TB patients are diagnosed as quickly as possible. That is why Riders are mobilizing sample couriers with reliable motorcycles. These couriers are able to transport blood and sputum samples from rural clinics to laboratories quickly, and then return the results just a few days later. Without a system for reliable testing, it means people with TB will be putting their communities in danger. When patients are sure they will get test results quickly and accurately we have seen that more people start visiting clinics and accessing health care because they have more faith in the service. Kameko Nichols (Riders for Health’s Partnership Director in Africa) says:"Riders for Health is mobilising health workers who focus on prevention education and treatment of TB. This means the health workers have greater reach and more patients can access these services, especially in rural areas. "But, of course, patients cannot be treated if they go undiagnosed. Our sample transport system is ensuring efficient and timely diagnosis, enabling faster treatment."To find out more about how Riders for Health is helping TB officers in Lesotho, click here to visit the Stop TB Partnership website.