EXPOSEDLast week, Aeras, a non-profit organisation committed to the development of effective tuberculosis (TB) vaccines, launched a film series covering the global epidemic of TB.

‘EXPOSED: The Race Against Tuberculosis’ is a four part series of short films featuring the voices of those on the front-line against the fight – patients, physicians, scientists, advocates and policymakers. The fact that these short films bring together so many voices in the fight against TB makes for particularly compelling viewing. Aeras will release a new film every Wednesday and the first is available to watch at the bottom of this post.

The first film – Chapter 1: The Global Epidemic – was released last Wednesday and is very much worth a watch. The film tells the story of Natalie Skipper, who survived multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Her powerful testimonial  in the film highlights not only the impact the disease can have on you socially but also the devastating mental and physical side-effects that come with the treatment.

Many patients find it hard to cope with MDR-TB treatment because of these side-effects that can include vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. Oxana Rucsineanu, another MDR-TB survivor, powerfully summed up the side-effects of MDR-TB in an interview I had with her recently when stating:

The only thing I would like to say is that I would never wish that experience on my greatest enemy!

Importantly, these films highlight that we cannot and must not stand by and leave TB to its own devices. Every year, approximately nine million men, women and children across the world become sick with TB, and 1.4 million die.

This is not just a problem isolated to developing countries. In the UK in 2011, 8,693 cases of TB were reported and the number of drug-resistant cases rose by 8.4%. TB is not a disease that respects borders or that targets certain individuals. As Valeria Mizrahi, University of Cape Town, asserts in the film:

Bacteria do not carry passports. This is a global phenomenon.

This film serves to highlight that it is so important that we do not stand idly by and allow this epidemic to continue to devastate lives. If we do not act now millions more will lose their lives and TB will become harder and harder to tackle as costs increase as drug-resistant strains take increasing hold.

Here at RESULTS UK we are calling on our leaders, both in the UK and beyond, to take action. There are a number of recommendations that have been made and must be listened to if we are going to defeat TB. One such way is to fully support the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria. This highly successful mechanism currently provides over 80% of all funding in the fight against TB and so it is critical it is fully funded.

You can also urge your representatives in the EU to take action by asking them to sign the Written Declaration on the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) to the European region. You can find out more about this here.

We urge you to watch the film and share with friends. You can also catch the next three films which are released Wednesday 29th May, Wednesday 5th and Wednesday 12th June respectively.