After giving a teary account of her 2015 battle with Tuberculosis (TB) last week at a press conference in Johannesburg, Miss South Africa 2018 Tamaryn Green announced the launch of her #BreakTheStigma campaign. This campaign aims to contribute to ending the Tuberculosis epidemic by 2035, while also creating awareness about the effects and gravity TB has on communities.
‘My campaign is based around breaking the stigma with regards to TB. It’s about raising awareness that TB is curable, but it’s still killing so many people, so action needs to be taken. And it’s to work towards that end goal of [ending TB by] 2035’, Green said. ‘My role in all of this is that I’m going to be the voice behind TB. I’m going to use my platform as Miss South Africa to get the word out to people who don’t usually hear it.’
It took me three years to talk about my story. I could have avoided a lot of trauma by just speaking about it sooner, but I am now in the process of dealing with it. I want to encourage people not to be afraid to speak up and get the help they need. It is the only way we are going to beat TB and #breakthestigma. The power of the Miss SA platform is bigger than I could ever have imagined and I am in a position where my voice can be heard and with that I have an opportunity to help as many people as I can.
As someone who is now long recovered from TB, Green is using her Miss SA platform to ‘encourage people to talk about it – talk about what they’re going through [without feeling] stigmatised,’ as she told The Juice.
A necessary conversation
This campaign comes at a necessary time, with South Africa having one of the highest incidences of TB – the World Health Organisation (WHO) cites an estimated incidence of 454,000 cases of active TB in 2015 (the year Tamaryn Green was battling the disease as well). What this means is that about 0.8% of the population of about 54 million develop active TB diseases each year.
A lesser known fact is that an estimated ‘80% of the population of South Africa is infected with TB bacteria, the vast majority of whom have latent TB rather than active TB disease’, according to TBFacts.Org. ‘The highest prevalence of latent TB, estimated at 88% has been found among people in the age group 30-39 years old living in townships and informal settlements.’ Perhaps this is not as loudly spoken about as the other epidemics this country faces because of the stigma attached to TB.
Miss South Africa’s campaign is about to change that now. As an ambassador of the World Health Organisation and the National Department of Health, she says she will be attending national and international meetings, share her story, and educate the community.