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Buddy Beat TB: Supporter of pediatric patients undergoing treatment

Buddy Beat TB: Supporter of pediatric patients undergoing treatment
Publication date: 
Sep 2017

The creation of Buddy 

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds the Tuberculosis South Africa Program, a five-year project (2016–2021) that provides technical assistance to the Government of South Africa to reduce TB infections. The project contributes to tuberculosis (TB) infection prevention and control (IPC) and encourages uptake of relevant health services and better TB treatment adherence among residents of South Africa. Buddy Beat TB is a friendly TB-fighting mascot developed to encourage pediatric patients to take their TB treatment and feel welcome while admitted as in-patients in hospitals across South Africa. Buddy Beat is one of the flagship initiatives of the USAID TB South Africa Project. 

Buddy Beat TB was created to provide much-needed support to children with TB receiving treatment while admitted in hospital. When children are sick and admitted in hospital their routines are disrupted, often leading them to become anxious due to being separated from their parents, siblings and other family members. 

Using Buddy, the USAID Tuberculosis South Africa Project aims to contribute to effective strategies of minimising anxiety in child patients. Buddy also provides an opportunity for children to learn about TB disease and their treatment through play. With Buddy, children have opportunities to express their worries and feelings in safe and comfortable spaces. They also learn about their health, with emphasis on the importance of taking all their treatment so they can be cured and become healthy again.   

The Buddy character was co-created by the Western Cape Department of Health (through Brewelskloof Hospital), the Gauteng Department of Health (through Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital), and the USAID TB Care II South Africa project. Child TB patients contributed to the conceptualization and creation of the mascot during a series of highly participatory and action-packed media workshops that placed children with MDR-TB in selected hospitals in South Africa at the center of the process. 

Buddy joins a list of characters and performers who entertain young people with serious conditions in hospitals and hospices, using fun as a therapeutic tool. 

The Buddy package is being piloted in hospitals with pediatric TB wings: Sizwe Hospital (Gauteng Province,) King Dinuzulu Hospital (KwaZulu-Natal Province) and Brewelskloof and Brooklyn Chest hospitals, both in Western Cape Province. Once tested and perfected, the intervention approach will be rolled out to all hospitals catering for pediatric patients in South Africa.

Buddy meets the world

Buddy Beat TB at the launch of the Global TB Caucus

The Buddy Beat TB mascot was unveiled during the launch of the Global TB Caucus, at the Global TB Conference hosted by South Africa on 28 November 2015. The meeting took place in Cape Town prior to the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health. An unveiling ceremony was subsequently held during a visit by international parliamentarians at an event hosted at Brooklyn Chest Hospital, Cape Town.  

International Tuberculosis Conference 2016

Buddy was visible during a USAID TB South Africa Project-planned fun walk, organized as part of pre-conference activities held before the International TB Conference (TB2016) hosted in July 2016 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province. The fun walk primarily aimed to raising the visibility of the TB epidemic in South Africa, and of the project, and educate the public in South Africa in general about how to identify and prevent TB in their homes and communities. Buddy Beat TB was in the forefront of the march through the streets of Durban, helping to bring attention to the event, and to encourage people to take up TB screening and testing services that were available at the end-point of the march. 

Buddy Beat TB goes global 

For World TB Day this year, Buddy traveled to Washington D.C. in the United States of America to retrace the steps of the South African Health Minister who was honored in 2016 for South Africa’s efforts to end TB.  While in D.C. Buddy visited the places that represent exactly what he stands for: courage, hope, dedication and perseverance!