The TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) is an advocacy network that brings together civil society representatives (individuals and organisations) from across the WHO European Region; in order to strengthen the role of civil society within the regional response to tuberculosis (TB), and to increase the political and financial commitment required to effectively control the epidemic in region. TBEC was formed by a group of TB advocates in 2009. They identified a need to capacitate and bring together civil society in order to address two major concerns: high-rates of drug resistance, coupled with low awareness among general populations and policy-makers about this problem. This was especially due to a scarcity of civil society stakeholders working on TB in the region, despite their important role within an effective response, with few capable of advocating for TB at national or regional level. TBEC addresses this by providing a coordinating body that brings together civil society stakeholders across the region, disseminates high-quality information and resources, promotes collaboration and best practice, and aims to build the advocacy capacity of civil society stakeholders working to control TB.
The TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) is an advocacy network that brings together civil society representatives (individuals and organisations) from across the WHO European Region; in order to strengthen the role of civil society within the regional response to tuberculosis (TB), and to increase the political and financial commitment required to effectively control the epidemic in region. TBEC was formed by a group of TB advocates in 2009. They identified a need to capacitate and bring together civil society in order to address two major concerns:
1) high-rates of drug resistance tuberculosis, and
2) low awareness among general populations and policy-makers about this problem.
This is especially due to a scarcity of civil society stakeholders working on TB in the region, despite their important role within an effective response, with few capable of advocating for TB at national or regional level. TBEC addresses this by providing a coordinating body that brings together civil society stakeholders across the region, disseminates high quality information and resources, promotes collaboration and best practice, and aims to build the advocacy capacity of civil society stakeholders working to control TB.
TB Europe Coalition's key operational objectives are to adequately address the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities, TBEC must maintain access to relevant information, tools, resources and support for its members, expand the network’s membership to achieve a greater coverage of the region and continue to build the operational capacity of its Secretariat, to ensure the successful implementation its work programme.
The operational objectives below have been developed in response to the above situational analysis and in relation to the multi-annual work programme of the network (2015-2017):
Strategic Objective 1.1: Increase understanding of the civil society contribution to TB response across 65% of the Region by the end of 2015.
Strategic Objective 2.1: By the end of 2015, maintain and strengthen the TBEC website as a regional platform serving 300 civil society stakeholders working within the TB response.
Strategic Objective 3.1: Provide access to TBEC support and representation to civil society stakeholders in at least 70% of countries within the Region by the end of 2015.
Strategic Objective 4.1: Strengthen the voice of civil society in all accessible EU and regional forums/consultations throughout 2015.
Strategic Objective 5.1: Strengthen TBEC's governance and internal processes for the successful implementation of its work programme by the end of 2015.
Involvement of civil society in policy processes relating to TB and associated health issues remains weak and unsystematic in many countries. In fact, the political environment, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, is often not conducive to effective dialogue between health authorities, civil society and affected communities. Very often, health authorities are not aware of the NGOs working on TB and related social issues, or of the essential services they provide. At the same time, a lack of understanding of policy processes and advocacy impairs the capacity of civil society stakeholders to participate in these processes. Without this capacity, civil society is unable to address issues of policy or resource mobilization for TB and related health issues at national level. Without this, regional efforts by the EU and other agencies will be undermined. The lack of coordination with other actors working to fight TB and related issues also contributes to the limited capacity of civil society to be effectively represented in public governance processes and consultations. Improved collaboration and networking of civil society stakeholders in these countries is essential to address these challenges, and forms part of TBEC’s multiannual strategy.
The objectives were achieved via the delivery of key outputs that form the annual work programme by:
1) Mapping civil society stakeholders across the WHO European Region,
2) Facilitating access to information and resources for capacity building for target groups,
3) Conducting outreach to civil society across the region with the aim of expanding the network and building relationships with target groups,
4) Engaging with decision-makers on behalf of civil society across the region, and
5) Managing the network effectively to implement the three-year work programme.
TBEC conducted qualitative and quantitative mapping of civil society stakeholders in 15 target countries. Mapping of these countries was carried out via desk research; country visits, trainings and an online ‘join us’ application function on the website as well as networking at various conferences and meetings. Mapping data of civil society stakeholders across the region are published in an accessible format on the TBEC website. The target mapped countries in 2015 included Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in order to strengthen TBEC’s understanding and positioning ahead of the High level Ministerial Conference on TB, hosted by the Latvian presidency of the EU in March 2015. In addition, the five countries of Central Asia (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), the Russian Federation, Belarus, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria were also the focus of mapping activities. Mapping data have been disseminated with our members and have been made available on the website for all members and wider public interested in TB and issues related to TB. Mapping data are updated regularly on quarterly basis to ensure reliability of the data.
The Secretariat of the network produced and disseminated a monthly email newsletter to the entire membership (in both English and Russian, to adequately provide for all members). These newsletters are archived and publicly available on the TBEC website.
In addition, the annual thematic report was launched as part of World TB Day activities (March 24th). The focus of TBEC’s 2015 thematic report ‘shared responsibility: international vs. domestic financing for the TB response’, aimed to build the capacity of civil society to participate in relevant policy processes and engage with their national governments around the transitioning from external financing (i.e. Global Fund) to domestic financing of TB and HIV programmes. The report is publicly available and was disseminated amongst the membership via TBEC communication channels – listserv, social media, website, mail, and also distributed at conferences, meetings and trainings. The report was translated into Russian that was highly appreciated by Russian speakers or non-English speakers, such as in Latvia, Bulgaria.
During the year 2015 the TBEC website went through a significant development and maintenance. The website is bilingual and serves to Russian speakers as well. At least two/four blogs and information were posted every month on the website. Eight new website pages were developed: Social media, Calendar of events, Fundraising opportunities, Feedback, Members forum, Blog, Map of Civil Society Organisations, Mentoring Programme, and five pages were improved: TBEC Membership, Resources, Case studies, Newsletter Archive and Technical Assistance.
In September 2015 (14-18) we organised a country visit to one of the priority countries identified for this grant - Latvia. The country visit is particularly important as both an outreach tool and a means to build the capacity of civil society at national level. Latvia has been identified as the priority country for 2015 (with other visits within the EU planned in the following years) as it hosted the Ministerial Meeting on TB and MDR-TB in Riga under the Latvian EU Presidency in March 2015. Following this event, civil society were more mobilised and interested in conducting effective follow-up with national decision-makers and parliamentarians. The TBEC delegation (3 members of TBEC) lead the visit that included preliminary meetings with Latvian stakeholders, a two-day advocacy workshop for civil society representatives and a meeting with key decision-makers from the Ministry of Health of Latvia.
The Secretariat also developed and distributed promotional materials that were disseminated to national focal points and members of the Steering Committee to help them network and expand the reach of TBEC within their country. A leaflet was produced as lig
The TB Europe Coalition has gone from strength to strength in 2015. The network is now recognized as the leading civil society network in the region. The additional capacity in the UK secretariat has enabled TBEC to reach and attract a wider range of members, which is definitely a result of being able to systematically provide all our information in both English and Russian. The thematic report launched in March is being used by civil society across the region facing transition from donor funding, providing added value not just within TB actors but HIV and harm reduction players too. We are receiving requests for joint workshops, sessions and symposiums with international players.
At the moment, a weakness of TBEC is the capacity at secretariat at an operational level. Due to our added value and increasing status as a reputable network, we receive many requests for activities however secretariat capacity is preventing ability to follow through. Strengthening governance, secretariat and functioning of the network is still a priority for us, and will continue throughout the duration of the three year grant.
Since the beginning of this specific project in January 2015, TBEC and TBEC members have:
• 29% Increase of members of the network (Baseline: 215) and the number of members who have access to information on policy and resource developments as well as networking opportunities. This has been done by improved web communications, a monthly newsletter, social media and workshop with country visits. There are now 303 members accessing information through our various outlets.
• Improved our communication with the members; for instance our successful email deliveries rate is 99.6% with an open rate of more than 27.4%. Social media coverage increased with 222 funs on the FB page and 242 followers on Twitter.
• Produced a mapping report of 15 target countries in the EU, in order to provide information about civil society stakeholders working in specific country contexts. We have reached 60% of WHO European Region countries that are represented within the TBEC network. This has been shared with the membership on the website.
• Produced a thematic report, After Aid: What Next for TB and HIV in Europe, on the consequences of donor withdrawal from countries with a high burden of MDR-TB in the WHO European Region.
• Participated in the Latvia Ministerial Meeting on TB and its Drug Resistance. TBEC members attended the event and read out a civil society statement on TBEC’s behalf. Many were then able to discuss more specific country matters with their Ministers or Minister’s representatives.
• Participated in the Wolfheze Workshops, a technical TB conference in the Netherlands, with TBEC speaking on the importance of civil society and community involvement in TB care and control.
• Facilitated a regional advocacy workshop in the Netherlands for 10 TB advocates, former patients and stakeholders from within the EU and neighbouring countries. This was a two day long advocacy and public speaking workshop.
• Produced policy submissions for various consultations, including that of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and on the European Neighbourhood Policy.
• Produced promotional materials (leaflets, banners) that contribute to increase TBEC visibility at conferences, workshops, and meetings; help to provide more information on TBEC work; and promote TBEC activities.
• Improved the website pages by creating and adjusting 9 pages with regular updates with upcoming events, information blogs. The website has been translated into Russian language to reach and serve our Russian speaking members.
• Facilitated an advocacy workshop (11 participants) and meetings with stakeholders and decision makers in Latvia, as part of our series of country visits and national advocacy workshops for local civil society.
• Participated in the 47th Union World Conference on Tuberculosis and Lung Health in Cape Town and supported 2 civil society representatives to attend the conference and present at the TBEC Symposium;
• Conducted an advocacy tour, brought a former MDR-TB patient and advocate to Brussels to meet with EU decision-makers.
• Developed a ToR of Steering Committee members
• Organised Annual Steering Committee meeting and produced the report
• Developed mentoring programme accessible to all members
• Conducted Annual Member Survey
• Further improved membership outreach and strengthened the Secretariat
The work programme activities and outcomes were disseminated across the network’s communication channels to ensure broad public exposure and increase levels of awareness of both the issue and the network’s role in the response. These channels include the TBEC newsletter, social media and the website, which was updated in 2015 to enhance the network’s existing dissemination strategy. These communication channels were strengthened in 2015 by being disseminated in both English and Russian, to ensure maximum accessibility for target groups across the region. In addition, hard copies of promotional materials were distributed to Steering Committee members and key stakeholders across the region during conferences, meetings, workshops, etc.
The website, social media and listserv
The TBEC website that significantly improved in 2015, functions as a hub for the network members to strengthen regional and national networking, information sharing and to enhance the use of best practice. Country mapping and the dissemination of information served to strengthen the understanding of civil society concerns, activities and the potential opportunities for collaboration between stakeholders. The dissemination of majority of information on the website was in two languages: in English and Russian.
Electronic versions of the Annual Report and the Thematic Report are published on the website and they were also mailed to the members to strengthen their awareness of actions at EU and regional levels that have significant relevance to their work at national level.
Complementary to these reports, the website hosted case studies, funding opportunities, technical assistance programmes, calendar of events and other information to support members’ advocacy in response to the TB epidemic.
The TBEC logo and the emblem of the EU/Chafea 3rd Health Programme with disclaimer have been visible on all reports publicly disseminated by the network. These have been presented on the TBEC website and newsletters to ensure maximum visibility and recognition of support.
The implementation of the work programme was monitored throughout the year, with monitoring data gathered monthly. The internal monitoring data reports were shared with the Steering Committee regularly on quarterly basis. The annual monitoring data were also included in the Annual Report. Qualitative data were gathered through evaluation questionnaires, de-briefings after meetings, and annual survey to measure outcome.
The evaluation was focused on assessing the effective completion of the activities, the production of the deliverables included in the activity plan and the achievement of the proposed targets. It included participants’ evaluations, conducted to determine the impact of specific activities for 2015 - Survey, specific evaluations was carried out for both the advocacy training with national CSOs and for other events organised during the country visit. Participants of these events were asked to complete a questionnaire and give feedback on the quality, effectiveness, relevance and likely impact of the activities and make improvements to content as necessary. The questioners and de-briefings were mainly used for the workshop/training participants and the annual survey targeted all TBEC members.
- From the responses we have received 62% stated that they were very satisfied with the TBEC on an overall basis. The respondents were from 23 countries with Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Romania covering more than 10% each.
- More than 50% of respondents were very satisfied and almost 30% extremely satisfied with information resources provided by TBEC. ‘Funding’ (45x), ‘Advocacy’ (18x) and ‘Stigma’ (14x) were the top three words mentioned as the words that describe their biggest issues they are dealing with in their TB work.
- To ensure we use the best communication channels when disseminating information and new resources, we were particularly interested wh