TB PREVENTIVE THERAPY DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Toolkit to assist advocacy towards the continuation of TPT services

OVERVIEW

The global COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has disrupted health systems worldwide. This has impacted health services for other diseases, including tuberculosis (TB).

For persons at high risk of TB and other diseases, access to the health services they need is likely to become more difficult. Yet, the WHO has stressed the importance of continuing essential health services to protect affected persons and those at risk. Therefore, it is crucial that national programmes continue to provide TB services while at the same time maintaining their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. TB prevention is particularly important during this time—by preventing those who are at the highest risk from developing TB, we can protect them from potentially suffering more severe symptoms from COVID-19. Household contacts of known TB cases who may be at risk of getting TB and COVID-19 can also benefit from TPT.  

The TB community is urged to act quickly to adapt and strengthen TB service provision to maximize the health and safety of vulnerable TB patients and TB healthcare workers during this pandemic. Advocacy is critical to ensure TB remains a national priority.

There are several reasons why TB might be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Stigma and discrimination (given the similarity of some of the symptoms);
  • Reduced healthcare-seeking behavior;
  • Increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease due to weaker immune systems or lingering lung damage due to prior TB;
  • Overlap of early symptoms during screening procedures;
  • Pressure on existing diagnostic resources;
  • Pressure on contact tracing workforces.

During this pandemic, there is an urgent need to bring quality and effective TB prevention, treatment and care closer to communities. Empowering communities to use innovative community-based TB services has been shown to have a high impact and to be cost-effective. The IMPAACT4TB project has developed a set of tools to assist healthcare workers and programs in decision making to start TPT in the setting of COVID-19. More details are available on our website here.

KEY MESSAGES
  • People with TB may have weaker immune systems and may be at greater risk of getting infected with COVID-19. People with TB are also at risk of suffering more severe symptoms from COVID-19, and the risk is even higher among people who are HIV positive. People with prior TB may also be at higher risk due to residual lung damage caused by TB.
  • A recent modelling study released by the Stop TB Partnership found that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to 6.3 million more people becoming ill with TB by 2025, and 1.4 million more deaths from the disease over the same period.
  • We must continue providing TB care and treatment to those in need. Taking TB medicines and completing treatment will not only cure TB but it will also improve the body’s ability to fight other infections, including COVID-19.
  • Promoting TB drug adherence for TB patients who have COVID-19 is vital to lessen the impact of COVID-19.
  • By preventing those who are at the highest risk of developing TB, we can protect them from potentially suffering more severe symptoms from COVID-19. Household contacts of known TB cases who may be at risk of getting TB and COVID-19 can also benefit from TPT.
  • Prolonged disruptions in production capacity in countries under lockdown and of international and local transportation are expected to negatively impact the stocks of medicines and laboratory supplies needed to prevent and treat TB.
  • The TB community has a wealth of infection control experience that can help enhance our response to COVID-19, including when it comes to screening, testing as well as contact tracing.
  • TPT for PLHIV is an integral part of quality HIV care. It is inexcusable that TB remains the leading cause of death among PLHIV when we have an evidence-based method of prevention but have failed to implement it. Now is the time for HIV programs to assume greater leadership and, in coordination with TB programs, place the same emphasis on TPT scale-up that was placed on HIV testing for all people with TB.
  • The current COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviors against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus. Health education is one of the key ways in which to address stigmatization.
HASHTAGS

You are encouraged to always include the following hashtags to your posts so that all those working towards the #EndTB UN targets by 2022 can advocate in a unified voice.

#EndTB #IMPAACT4TB #3HP #TB #PreventTB #fightCOVID-19 #PreventionIsPowerful

Follow IMPAAACT4TB partners social media profiles:

  • Facebook: @theauruminstitute @clintonhealthaccessinitiative @kncvtuberculosisfoundation @treatmentactiongroup
  • Twitter: @auruminstitute @clintonhealth @kncvtbc @TAGteam_tweets @johnshopkins
  • Instagram: @impaact4tb @auruminstitute @kncv_tuberculosefonds @treatmentactiongroup
SAMPLE FACEBOOK MESSAGES
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening hard-won gains in the fight to #EndTB and setting the world off track for meeting our global UN targets by 2022. To protect the most vulnerable, it’s important that we keep up the fight against TB. Find out more: impaact4tb.org
  • In recent years, we’ve made some precious gains in the fight against TB, and it’s important that these do not become undone by the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more: impaact4tb.org
  • What do TB and COVID-19 have in common? They are both respiratory infections that can be transmitted through droplets by means such as coughing or sneezing. The TB community has a wealth of infection control experience that can help enhance our response to COVID-19. Find out more on impaact4tb.org and (Use this graphic)
  • High burden countries need to take immediate measures to continue TB treatment and prevention services to minimize the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on TB and get back on track to achieve the UNGA targets to #endTB.
  • Data from South Africa show a 2 – 2.5 times higher risk of COVID-19 death associated with HIV and TB. People with prior TB are also more at risk. By preventing TB, we can protect those at highest risk.
SAMPLE TWITTER MESSAGES
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening hard-won gains in the fight to #EndTB and setting the world off track for meeting our global UN targets 🎯 by 2022. We must continue to provide TB care, treatment, and prevention.
  • By preventing TB, we can 🛡️ protect those at highest risk from potentially suffering more severe symptoms from COVID-19. Find out more:www.impaact4tb.org
  • If you have TB, you can reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 by following a few simple steps. Find out more: impaact4tb.org/handouts/
  • High burden countries need to take immediate measures for continuity of TB treatment and prevention services during the lockdown period to minimize the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on TB and get back on track to achieve the UNGA targets to #endTB
  • In light of COVID-19, TB preventive therapy is more important than ever. TB is a risk factor for COVID-19 mortality. By preventing TB, we can 🛡️ protect those at highest risk.
SAMPLE INSTAGRAM POSTS AND IMAGES

Follow the campaign on Instagram: @impaact4tb

Download images to share on Instagram here.

  • As the world’s attention focuses on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to ensure we don’t neglect long-standing health problems, including tuberculosis (TB), and continue to provide essential health services to those who need them the most. If we don’t, we risk reversing some of the precious gains we’ve made in the fight against TB and put the lives of millions of people at risk.
  • TB and COVID-19 both attack the lungs and are transmitted via close contact, through droplets released, for example, through coughing and sneezing. But, Covid-19 can also be found on surfaces and is more contagious than TB. The TB community has a wealth of infection control experience that can help enhance our response to COVID-19, including when it comes to screening, testing as well as contact tracing. 
WHATSAPP

Share this message with your contacts on WhatsApp to help spread the word about #IMPAACT4TB.

  • As the world’s attention focuses on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to ensure we don’t neglect long-standing health problems, including tuberculosis (TB), and continue to provide essential health services to those who need them the most. If we don’t, we risk reversing some of the precious gains we’ve made in the fight against TB and put the lives of millions of people at risk. Find out more: impaact4tb.org
GRAPHICS

 We’ve created a series of graphics about TB and COVID-19, which we encourage you to use. The graphics are available here.

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