Track1: Basic and Clinical Sciences
In the last few years progress in global TB control has made serious strides towards elimination, fast tracked by the launch of the rapid diagnostic test for detection of TB and rifampicin-resistant TB (Xpert MTB/RIF assay) and better and more effective TB drugs especially in the field of drug resistance Tuberculosis. This track will focus on improving and expanding the understanding of basic sciences issues, the understanding and advancement of the knowledge base on mechanisms of TB infection and disease, host-pathogen interaction, immunology, genetics, biomarkers, particularly through advances in genomics and molecular biology. In the Clinical Sciences field this track will focus on implementation issues, controlled clinical trials, best practices, clinical case studies and innovative approaches to disease management.
Track2: Public Health and Prevention Strategies
Over the past few years, the introduction of new diagnostics and drugs to combat TB have left many feeling that the mantra of “Better Drugs, Faster Diagnostics” will solve South Africa’s TB problem. Yet, while better drugs and faster diagnostics are of great importance, time and again, we quickly realize that basic public health and prevention programs are key to decreasing the burden of disease, including TB, in our communities. When properly implemented, infection control in health facilities, active case finding, targeted screening and prevention programmes for high-risk populations, household contact investigations, community DOTS, and health promotion to increase the demand for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services contribute substantially to decreasing the transmission and burden of TB. Unfortunately, public health and prevention programmes are typically and again, underfunded, both in South Africa and globally, compared to the implementation of new drugs and diagnostic tools. This track will highlight and celebrate evidence-based approaches, best-practice models, epidemiological research and implementation science studies aimed at public health and prevention programmes for TB.
Track3: Health Systems, Monitoring and Evaluation
Tracking progress towards elimination is a vital component of epidemic control, especially as we strive to end TB. The strengthening of systems, both digital and other, to collect, store and analyse small and large volumes of disaggregated data, the effective utilisation of resources to document and disseminate information and act on analysed data is the cornerstone of any effective disease control programme. This track will focus on health systems, recording and reporting best practices, evaluation of the impact of interventions to allow for programme adjustments where needed, data analytics, new and novel approaches to data collection, storage and analytics, TB surveillance and the application of this in the field at facility, district, provincial and national level.
Track 4: Access: Human Rights, Stigma, Marginalised Populations
Despite the progress made in addressing challenges faced by marginalized and vulnerable populations, stigma still plays a significant role in impeding access to universal access, treatment and care for both Tuberculosis and HIV services. Respect for human rights is a non-negotiable principle of the South African National Strategic Plan for HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Goal 3 of the NSP emphasizes the need to reach all key and vulnerable populations with customized and targeted interventions to ensure that nobody is left behind. Marginalized populations include people in detention, migrant workers, people that are the victims of social injustices, people living in informal settlements, experiencing gender discrimination, substance abusers and all persons who do not have equal access to care and treatment. This track will focus on the importance of community based activities, civil society mobilization and advocacy to address social and human rights issues hampering access to universal care and treatment for TB and HIV services.