Taking the DR-TB Manifesto to the 67th World Health Assembly

As health ministers from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland last week for the 67th World Health Assembly, Phumeza Tisile worked to turn their attention to the “Test Me, Treat Me” DR-TB Manifesto campaign’s call to action.
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As health ministers from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland last week for the 67th World Health Assembly, Phumeza Tisile worked to turn their attention to the “Test Me, Treat Me” DR-TB Manifesto campaign’s call to action. Phumeza had extensively drug-resistant TB and was cured after three years of difficult treatment and side effects, which included permanent deafness.

As health ministers from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland last week for the 67th World Health Assembly, Phumeza Tisile worked to turn their attention to the “Test Me, Treat Me” DR-TB Manifesto campaign’s call to action.
Phumeza Tisile (right), is one of two tuberculosis survivors who filed a patent challenge in India to try to block Johnson & Johnson from extending its monopoly on bedaquiline, a critical medicine in the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).
SWITZERLAND 2014 © MSF
During the course of the DR-TB Manifesto campaign, Phumeza spoke to media from all over the world. Here at the World Health Assembly, she is interviewed by German TV station ARD.
Later on Monday, Ministers of Health from around the world discussed the next 20-year global plan for tuberculosis, which sets ambitious targets to reduce TB deaths by 95% and to cut new cases by 90% between 2015 and 2035.
Before the 20-year plan was finally approved, Phumeza read a statement asking Ministers of Health to make the three demands of the DR-TB Manifesto a reality. Her heartfelt speech garnered a round of applause, a rare occurrence during WHA proceedings. Read her statement here: http://bit.ly/1o7sSSk
Next, Phumeza met with Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme, to discuss priorities for fighting drug-resistant TB and to handover more than 50,000 signatures supporting the DR-TB Manifesto’s call to action.
Dr. Mario Raviglione said of Phumeza, “She’s a hero!” and congratulated her on having the courage to make her speech to WHA delegates. More patient voices are needed to raise awareness of the deadly toll that drug-resistant TB takes on families and communities around the world.
On Thursday, at a meeting organized by MSF and WHO, policymakers discussed concrete actions to improve diagnosis and treatment for drug-resistant TB. Phumeza described her “hellish” treatment course and called for new treatments that are shorter, less toxic, more affordable and more effective.
Phumeza with some of the speakers and organizers of Thursday’s meeting (from left to right): Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary, Stop TB Partnership; Dr. Jennifer Cohn, MSF Access Campaign; Dr. Pinkie Manamolel, Minister of Health, Lesotho; and Dr. Grania Brigden, TB Advisor, MSF Access Campaign.
Phumeza and MSF colleague Patricia Mazuru in front of the UN. In a blog post about her experience, Phumeza says “My turn came and I read my speech, I was so calm too while reading it, speaking truth to power.” Follow Phumeza on her blog at http://bit.ly/1pqn9qR.