Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

STOP-TB eForum: Providing a Voice at the TB Policy Table? (Books & Electronic Media)

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

STOP-TB eForum: Providing a Voice at the TB Policy Table? (Books & Electronic Media)

Article excerpt

STOP-TB eForum, Health & Development Networks. New subscribers can join the STOP-TB eForum by sending a blank email to: join-stop-tb@ healthdev.net. All the discussions are stored at: http://archives.healthdev.netl/stop-tbl

Tuberculosis (TB) control programmes are notorious for their "top-down" approach. This is a popular perception at national and global levels: whether or hot it is true is a matter for debate. Whatever the case, few would argue against the need to find ways to give more people a voice at the TB policy table. The STOP-TB eForum is one such way.

The eForum was set up in August 2001 in order to provide input into and feedback from the STOP TB Partners' Forum held in Washington, DC, in October that year. Within a short time, the eForum emerged as a common meeting ground for health care providers, those working in advocacy, programme managers, researchers, policy planners, and media personnel throughout the world. The number of subscribers shot up to more than 2500 in the first six months, with considerable input from people in low-income and high TB-burden countries.

The discussions were divided into three topics based on the agenda for the Partners' Forum, namely "Progress since Amsterdam: how far we have come?"; "Planning for TB control into the future"; and "TB and HIV." Many of the issues discussed were of crucial importance to front-line TB workers, such as erratic drug supply, counterfeit medicines, stigma, and the ever-present need for advocacy. Not all the contributions related to problems: many solutions and success stories were also shared.

A valuable evaluation of the early months of the eForum has been undertaken (the report, published in February 2002, is available from: http:// www.hdnet.org/home2.htm). As only 10% of the subscribers responded, one must be careful about drawing too many conclusions, but those responding expressed a strong view that the eForum was fulfilling a very important role and should certainly continue. Many positive aspects were highlighted, such as the linking of TB workers in the South with those in the North, the focused nature of the discussions, and the chance to influence global policy, such as the Washington Commitment to Stop TB, arising from the first STOP TB Partners' Forum. …

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