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Fighting the Disease with a Cure:

An Africare Reflection on World TB Day


Washington, DC:In 2001, 3-year-old Allison of Newport News, Virginia was told that she was to receive her first "TB shot." Immediately taken back by the thought of needing a shot of any kind, and growing more squirmy by the minute, her mother and Doctor tried to make a game out it&emdash; this was no ordinary shot, but more like a game of Hide-n-Go-Seek. "If you have Tuberculosis, it's hiding in your body where we can't see it," Allison's mother began. "But if you take this shot, a small bump will rise up on your skin after 2 days. And we've got to find that bump if you're sick in order to get you better. Do you think you can help us look for it?"

Growing more curious, Allison accepted the challenge, took the shot, and began probing her arm for a bump over the next 2 days. None emerged.

Each year, thousands of American children receive their first TB or Tuberculosis shot in order to search for a serious respiratory infection, spread by coughing and sneezing, that could develop into a disease that causes death in more than half its victims if left untreated. Children are most vulnerable to the infection, but these rates have steadily declined in the U.S. since 1992 after a late 1980s re-surge. And yet, 15-thousand U.S. infections each year do not compare to the almost 2 million deaths TB causes around the world&emdash;most concentrated in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. All of this, in spite the fact that a cost-effective cure was developed for TB more than 50 years ago.

As it stands in 2007, Tuberculosis remains one of the world's leading infectious killers - second only to HIV/AIDS. But the combination of HIV and TB can be all the more fatal. An unfortunate and preventable reality for millions in sub-Saharan Africa who also have the highest incidence rates of HIV/AIDS.

"It's no coincidence that sub-Saharan Africa has the most concentrated rates of TB and the highest rates of HIV/AIDS," says Africare Health Program Manager Dr. Kechi Anah. "HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system, making the body susceptible to infections like Tuberculosis. But more so than any other infection, the TB bacteria accelerates the progress of the AIDS infection, and the World Health Organization tells us that it's associated with 13% of AIDS deaths."

That's 260-thousand deaths directly connected to TB per year reminds Dr. Anah. She has worked closely with an Africare Project in Southern Africa, the country with the highest prevalence of TB, to combat the disease since 2004: The Injongo Yethu Project was established in the Eastern Cape&emdash;also the country's poorest province&emdash;to expand access to quality treatment and care for people infected with HIV/AIDS, and subsequently Tuberculosis.

"You cannot look at one without examining the other," says Anah. "The collaboration between TB and HIV programs is a necessity and key to reducing the burden of TB among people living with HIV/AIDS, and HIV among TB patients."

Africare's project in the Eastern Cape has used a continuum of prevention, treatment and support services to reach to more than 10,000 people living with the HIV/AIDS virus by 2009. Tuberculosis testing and education is part of the program strategy&emdash;hoping to screen each patient that is attended through the project. Similar strategies have been adopted within a Senegalese project to reduce sickness and mortality in tuberculosis and malaria patients.

"It's important to remember that while global TB incidence rates are now stable or falling, the total number of cases are still rising in Africa," notes Anah.

A number that Anah and her team remain committed to eradicating completely as a member of the World Health Organization's "Stop TB partnership."

To learn more, visit

Africare is a leader in development assistance and humanitarian aid to Africa as well as the oldest and largest African-American led organization specializing in African aid. Over its 36-year history, Africare has delivered more than $592 million in assistance&emdash;representing over 2,000 projects and millions of beneficiaries&emdash;to 36 countries Africa-wide.

Nicole Eley

Media Relations Manager, Africare

A Leader in development and relief aid to Africa

202.328.5362 (o)

202.640.9334 (c)


Telephone: 202.328.5362      Fax: 202.387.1034      E-mail:


Farmers in Mali celebrate biodiversity with a seed fair This past November, USC's country office in Mali &endash; USC Afrique de l'Ouest &endash; organized a seed caravan and seed fair. About 130 farmers from 68 villages around Mopti and Douentza in central Mali joined a five-day caravan to travel about 200km to a seed fair in the village of Douentza. They exhibited a range of cultivated and uncultivated plant samples at the fair. The fair gave Malian farmers and USC a chance to celebrate farmers' ingenuity and the crop diversity fundamental to a stable food supply system.