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In 2022, tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global health problem, particularly in developing countries. On the Thai-Myanmar border, TB is an important problem among migrants, a vulnerable, very mobile population, with unstable, often difficult living conditions, insecure incomes, and poor access to health services.

Composite image, showing a TB doctor and patient at an SMRU TB clinic, a scene of a crowd watching 'Under the Mask', and filming.

The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) TB programme operates in two clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border, with laboratory and logistical support in Mae Sot, Thailand. Finding TB cases and engaging migrant and local communities to make them aware of TB, particularly multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB is critical work at SMRU.

In October 2020, SMRU TB began an active case finding TB screening programme using a portable chest X-ray system to detect TB directly in migrant communities in remote farming and rural clusters in Thailand.

SMRU TB continues active TB awareness raising activities, despite current COVID-19 movement restrictions. In 2019, SMRU TB collaborated with the FilmAid Foundation to produce Under the Mask, which uses non-professional actors from the border community to allow TB patients to tell their story of life with TB.

To commemorate World TB day on 24 March 2022, we remind you that Under the Mask is freely available on YouTube

The story of Under the Mask follows the lives of our characters as they journey from diagnosis to treatment and help from the SMRU TB team, and explores how each discovers their capacity to overcome the deadly disease and share their knowledge and experience with others. Made in the local language, this film provides an engaging and inspiring tool for raising TB awareness in the community.

Under the Mask is a powerful look at tuberculosis on the Thai-Myanmar border. Made in the local language and with the local community, it provides an engaging and inspiring tool for raising TB awareness amongst the community.

Feedback from villagers after watching the film:

“Health education with the movie is more effective than verbal sessions, because we (the community) can memorize a lot and share what’s in the movie…pamphlets are not very effective, as most villagers can’t read or write.”

“This film gives us hope and ways to escape TB”

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