REACH, a Chennai-based non-profit organisation dedicated to the fight against tuberculosis, has been working with journalists since 2010 to improve media reporting on TB.

When was the last time you opened the newspaper and read a news story about tuberculosis?

The truth is, TB isn’t often in the news. It is not a particularly fashionable disease. We don’t hear about it or talk about it. And most of all, we rarely think TB will affect us – it always happens to ‘someone else’.

In other words, our challenge is to find innovative ways to keep TB alive in the public domain.

Every day, on average, Tuberculosis kills a 1000 people in India. This is 1000 deaths too many, 1000 people who could have been cured if they had been aware of the symptoms of TB, if they had been diagnosed earlier, if they had received the right treatment, if…

Our story began in 1999, when we joined the fight against tuberculosis (TB). A non-governmental organisation based in Chennai in South India, REACH works to involve both the general public and private sector in TB control. We believe in an integrated, multi-sectoral approach to community and public health issues. In other words, we believe that every one of us has a role in both preventing TB and in ensuring that those affected by TB receive the treatment and care that they need. Do visit our parent website, www.reachtbnetwork.org to find out more about our work.

Working with the media

We launched this initiative in 2010 with two main objectives –

  • To improve the quality and frequency of reporting on TB;
  • And thereby, to help improve the quality, accuracy and relevance of information on TB that is available to the general public.

Since 2010, some facets of this programme have included:

  • Annual media awards for English and local language journalists to recognise exemplary reporting on tuberculosis;
  • A unique media fellowship programme for mid-career journalists reporting in local languages to undertake in-depth analysis of various aspects of TB in India;
  • Trainings and briefings for working journalists to put forth and pitch ‘newsworthy’ aspects of tuberculosis;
  • Resources and mentoring for journalists to help improve their reporting on TB;
  • Workshops for media students to introduce them to reporting on TB, led by former media Fellows;
  • TB Tales, India’s first short film competition on tuberculosis, to encourage young filmmakers to explore creative ways to tell TB-related stories.

Between 2010 and March 2018, this initiate was supported by a United Way Worldwide grant made possible by the Lilly Foundation on behalf of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership.

These activities are now being supported by USAID as part of the TB Call to Action Project.