Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe (STBPZ) has appointed 21 champions to raise awareness sorrounding Tuberculosis which, despite the best efforts of many individuals and organizations to sensitize the disease, has remained invisible.
During the training workshop for the Stop TB champions who consist of celebrities, TB victims and motivational speakers, Mr Donald Tobaiwa said that tuberculosis is widely and mistakenly considered a disease of the past even though it is still a global pandemic. He partly attributed this to low rates in the high-income world, creating a perception that it has been axed. In the low-income world, the toll is staggering due to lack of funding and stigma.Â
To close this gap, he emphasized that an influential team of champions is fundamental to motivate the general public to push politicians and other decision makers to fund tuberculosis programmes. This should be done both in their own countries and as donors to others.
“Despite the best efforts of many individuals and organizations to raise awareness on tuberculosis, unfortunately it remains an invisible disease.Â
“Tuberculosis is widely and mistakenly considered a disease of the past even though it is still a global pandemic. This is partly because tuberculosis 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 tuberculosis is staggering, the main obstacles are lack of funding and stigma,” said Mr Tobaiwa.Â
He mentioned that TB champions are effective in raising awareness, removing fear and reducing stigma in the local, national and regional communities. This isÂ through TV, print media, comics, music, theatre, social media or one-to-one training and much more.
Also, he said TB Champions reach out to many different audiences, directly and through the media. This stimulates public interest through the arts, music, sports and social media to help relay relevant tuberculosis information from a variety of sources including government and health ministries.
“TB Champions are a key element to the success in the fight against tuberculosis. Although their function may vary depending on local contexts and particular needs of a country, they play an important role in attracting interest to the issue.Â
“Another important task for TB Champions is to make sure that tuberculosis is an interesting issue at the forefront of national public concerns. This can be difficult in times where the public is constantly overloaded with information from many media sources,” he said.
Mr Tobaiwa mentioned that these champions are capable of representing some of the financial support available for projects, events and campaigns through fundraising given the fact that non-governmental and governmental organizations budgets are getting reduced.
In an interview with The Voice News, Stop TB champion, broadcast journalist and activist Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa expressed high gratitude to STBPZ for choosing her among others to champion the fight against TB. She lamented the lack of attention TB receives considering its fatality rate.
“There is a reason why they called each one of us and I would want to deliver that, we want to be able to tangibly say after 3 months or 1 year we have achieved what we set out to achieve.
“The 1% fiscus that goes out to TB is far too low considering the fact that TB is one of the world’s biggest killers, we might want to lobby government to allocate more funds to TB because fundraising only goes so far,” she said.
Award winning Zimdancehall artist who is also one of the Stop TB champions Tawanda Mumanyi A.K.A Seh Calaz said that he is going to demystify information regarding TB amongst his fans and the nation at large with a view to coax them to resist key habits that may cause TB.
Renowned artist Albert Nyathi said integrating all the official languages is of paramount importance in this campaign in order to reach out to all the marginalised communities and nation at large.
The list of Stop TB champions consist of Chief Murambwa/Francis Mutemeri, a Traditional leader in Mhondoro (Mhondoro communal areas)
Soneni Gwizi- Motivational speaker,broadcaster and disability activist, Ambassador for Action on Disability and Development (ADD), PassionateÂ aboutÂ influencing different sectors of society for theÂ inclusion ofÂ people with disabilities in their agendas. (Bulawayo)
Tawanda Mumanyi A.K.A Seh Calaz-Musician, Mbare-bred award winning Zimdancehall artist, known for his hard-hitting lyrics which often, encompass social commentary on issues like poverty, unemployment and drug abuse, enjoys a large following especially from young people in the country (Harare)
Albert Nyathi- Internationally recognized Zimbabwean poet, musician, writer, actor, and philanthropist (Mat South)
Thubelihle â€œNcekuâ€ Sibanda-Stand-up gospel comedian, (Bulawayo and Cross boarder activities)
Ivan W. Craig-Business and farming community, Current Chairperson of Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Society (ZASS), Director for AgriSeeds
Tariro Kutadza-Developmental partners
Linda Muriro-Radio Presenter
Samatha Musa A.K.A MisRed-Radio Personality, Social Influencer, Philanthropist, Brand Ambassador, Events MC & Host TV Presenter
Tilda Karizamimba-Radio Presenter
Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa-Broadcast Journalist and Activist
Jabulani Ncube-Radio Presenter
Tariro Mazvarirwofa A.K.A Mai Judah-Radio Personality, social Influencer, Philanthropist, Brand Ambassador, Events MC & Host
Gumisai Bonzo-Survived TB twice (Harare)
Reverend Maxwell Kapachawo-Survived TB twice (Chitungwiza)
Enita Kwaramba- survived TB twice (Kadoma)
Mongiwabesuthu Ngwenya-Survived TB (Mat North)
Amanda Sambadzai -survived TB twice (Chitundwiza)
Barbra Farashishiko-Survived TB twice (Mabvuku)