Parliamentarians from around the world are calling for heads of state to bring the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) to an end
NEW YORK (April 26, 2018) – In a statement released on Thursday, members of the Global TB Caucus, a group of more than 2,300 parliamentarians from 132 countries committed to ending tuberculosis (TB), called on world leaders to attend the U.N. General Assembly High Level Meeting (HLM) on TB and make meaningful commitments to address TB—now the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
In the statement, Caucus members urge world leaders to use the HLM to commit to a “renewed effort to prevent, diagnose and treat TB,” ensuring that the global response is “equitable, rights-based and people-centred,” as well as boosting “investment in the full spectrum of TB research” to bring about urgently needed new tools including drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. The HLM is being co-sponsored by the nations of Japan and Antigua and Barbuda.
“It is truly encouraging that we see the momentum already building up by parliamentarian leaders whose role is critical to ending TB." said H.E. Mr. Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations.
The HLM is the first ever meeting of its kind on TB and will take place on September 26, 2018 when many world leaders will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Campaigners are looking to the HLM as a unique opportunity for world leaders to make the specific and impactful commitments necessary to end the tuberculosis epidemic, which was first labelled a Global Health Emergency in 1993. Since then, the Global TB Caucus estimates that as many as 50 million people have died from TB, and it has become the leading infectious disease killer worldwide.
“Any disease that claims the lives of millions of people deserves our immediate attention,” said Dr. Aubrey Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations. “My country is committed to wellness and healthcare in our achievement of the 2030 agenda.”
TB is a bacterial infection that is spread through the air. It is most often found in the lungs but can exist in any organ in the body and lie dormant for years. In 2016, 10.4 million people developed TB and 1.7 million died of it. It has become increasingly resistant to drug treatments, representing close to 1 in 3 deaths from antimicrobial resistance.
“The HLM is a unique opportunity to raise the profile of an issue which until now simply hasn’t commanded adequate attention from global leaders,” said The Rt Hon Nick Herbert CBE MP from the United Kingdom, who co-chairs the Global TB Caucus along with South Africa’s Minister of Health Aaron Motsolaedi. “TB needs this focus at the top level - it’s the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing more people every year than AIDS and malaria combined. Action to tackle this global catastrophe is long overdue.”
Following through on these commitments will require significant financial investments in the fight against TB at both global and national levels. Last year, TB care and prevention efforts were met with a $2.3 billion funding gap, while research and development funding to develop new tools to detect, treat, and prevent TB faces an annual shortfall of $1.2 billion.
Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is a target of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Unless world leaders agree on urgent actions to accelerate the current rate of progress against TB, the Sustainable Development Goal target could be missed by more than 100 years at a cost of over a trillion dollars in lost economic output and countless millions of lives.