ERS and TBEC hold first TB advocacy training event

17 May, 2019

Last month, ERS together with the TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) held its first ever advocates training event in Zagreb, Croatia, which aimed to support and develop advocacy skills of health professionals and civil society organisations working in tuberculosis (TB), and to allow the two groups to connect and discuss potential collaborations in the fight against TB.

The workshop was organised as part of the ERS Advocacy strategy to encourage every ERS member to be a two-minute advocate, and to strengthen links with national respiratory societies. The two-minute advocate strategy was developed in 2017 with the publication of the ERS Ten Principles for Lung Health, and aims to provide ERS members with all the necessary tools to be a lung health advocate either in their clinics, in the media, or directly with policymakers. ERS sees the role of physicians not only as serving individual patients and treating diseases, but as being actively engaged in the promotion of health and prevention of illnesses through advocacy.

Over the two-day event, participants with different backgrounds, from TB doctors to coordinators of national TB programmes, to representatives of civil society organisations based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia came together to discuss and compare the key issues in TB prevention, diagnosis, care and outreach in their own countries.

The participants discussed various issues surrounding TB such as:

  1. The international standards in quality people-centred TB care – what is or is not available in their home countries;
  2. The impact of transition from the Global Fund to national funding on NGO engagement in TB advocacy and healthcare delivery
  3. Opportunities for collaboration with various regional and international TB networks such as ERS, TBEC and the Global TB Caucus.
  4. Throughout the discussions, the participants were actively engaged in both passive and active learning – ranging from individual presentations to group discussions to role-play activities and more. The main focus was the development of a specific action plan for further engagement at national and regional level that would involve both civil society and health professionals.

During the final day of the workshop, the participants developed and presented three different action-plans that could be used at the national level to achieve specific TB advocacy goals. The action plans detailed various activities in national advocacy, capacity building and project management that can be easily added to or used in participants’ national work plans to enhance the quality of people-centred TB care in the country.

Commenting on this workshop, Advocacy Council Chair Prof. Jørgen Vestbo said: “It is an important step towards a more active role of physicians in TB advocacy and an increased collaboration between civil society and health professionals in the region.”

If you would like to learn more about the workshop, please access the TBEC country workshop report.