The Global TB Caucus was invited to participate in the sixth Pan African Parliament (PAP) session, from August 22 to September 2, 2022. Held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, South Africa, the session was divided into multiple discussions that enabled the PAP committees to engage with each other and relevant stakeholders; focusing on a united direction to strengthen the PAP and plan for the coming months, as well as the year ahead.
On the 25th of August, the Caucus had a meeting with the committee on health, labour, and social affairs. The main purpose of this meeting was for the Caucus to share its background, achievements, regional work plan, and proposed areas of collaboration. Representing the Caucus was African Regional Advisor Ms. Evaline Kibuchi, who highlighted the burden of TB in Africa: contextualizing the responses of different national caucuses towards strengthening political will in the fight against TB. A majority of the countries with national caucuses have successfully influenced policies and budgets, an indicator of Caucus members’ continued advocacy.
Key points for collaboration began with the suggestion to establish a formal partnership between the Caucus and PAP to leverage on shared targets, such as TB response and issues of policy, financing, and R&D. Secondly, it was agreed that relaunching a TB caucus within the PAP will be a strategic move to push TB response at the regional level. The PAP notably has an existing committee dedicated to health issues and can use this platform to further push policies that can benefit the continent.
Part of this push would be including TB as part of the health agenda, as it is of the utmost importance to raise awareness on TB. While COVID-19 has taught us the importance of prioritising health, TB has been in existence for over a century; it is time that it gets the attention, resources, and political will needed to address something that is both preventable and treatable.
Afterwards, it was recommended that the PAP support the committee on health, labour and social affairs while participating in regional and international forums on TB. This would ensure that Africa is aware of the dialogues and decisions on efficient responses towards fulfilling the SDGs, Global TB targets, and United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) targets. It was also noted that supporting the participation of MPs in the UNHLM TB preparatory meetings ahead of next year’s main meeting would be beneficial.
It was then emphasised that the PAP should continue advocating for member countries to make commitments and fulfill pledges to the Global Fund 7th replenishment. Most of the countries in Africa benefit from Global Fund support for HIV, TB, and Malaria; fulfilling pledges to the GF ensures continued aid and support in the face of domestic health fund shortages.
Hon. Jean Patrice France Quirin, Chairperson of the Committee, also thanked the Caucus for its work in ensuring TB is brought into the political space. He acknowledged the existence of a TB Caucus within the PAP, and said that it needed to be galvanised to fully contribute and respond to the needs of the region. Regarding his concerns on resource mobilisation, he stated, “We need substantial financing and it is clear that our governments need to dedicate more resources to respond to health concerns”.
Lastly, the committee Vice Chair, Hon. Dr Mahmoud El-Sayed Mohamed Saad, acknowledged the work of the Caucus and pledged to support engagement going forward. Hon. Sibandze, the Eswatini National Caucus Chairperson and part of the Caucus delegation, too expressed the importance of having the PAP on board in TB response as it can leverage its position and coverage to influence policy making.
Photo Credits to Steve Johnson