Global TB Caucus Hosts 3-Day Summit for Asia Pacific Parliamentarians to Tackle TB in the Region
L-R: Hon. Dr. Chinburen Jigjidsuren, Hon. Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, Hon. Warren Entsch, Hon. Min Seok Kim, Hon. Emanuel Melkiades Laka Lena, and Hon. Dr. Edy Wuryanto after signing the Regional Joint Agreement at Future-Proof; Asia and The Pacific TB Summit 2023
24 March 2023, New Delhi, India — From the 21st to 23rd of March, 2023, the Global TB Caucus held “Future-proof: Asia and the Pacific TB Summit 2023; Charting a Political Course towards the UN High-Level Meeting on TB and beyond”, in New Delhi and Varanasi, India.
The first of several regional summits, the APC summit takes place ahead of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis in September, and frames TB in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: prior to COVID-19, countries were already off-track to meet the targets from the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on TB (UNHLM).
Caucus Parliamentarians work to advance the development of effective policies and strategies to address the ongoing challenges TB presents, considering the importance of adequate preparation for this year’s upcoming UNHLM on TB; offering a vital opportunity to take the necessary actions to get UNHLM targets back on track. This can be done in part by accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring the prioritisation of investment in strengthening health systems. In summary, it rallies under the banner of "no one's health is left behind, no matter the circumstance".
With a focus on getting the regional response to TB back on track, the Asia Pacific Regional Parliamentary TB Summit considers the importance of a major regional effort. It unites leading MPs, together with key stakeholders and partners from affected communities, civil society, academia, and international organisations, to drive a renewed effort on TB.
The APC summit provides a unique opportunity to bring TB to the forefront of the global agenda, and draw attention to the critical need for continued efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat this debilitating disease. MPs from the various APC countries have highlighted policies and interventions that address TB gaps and challenges in their respective countries and the region.
“It’s time for our region to once again reunite in the fight against TB”, said Hon. Kim Min Seok (the Global TB Caucus’ Regional Co-chair of Asia and the Pacific and Member of the National Assembly, Republic of Korea). He discussed the current state of TB efforts in South Korea, emphasising that “Korea is the only country that has achieved both economic development and eradication of TB simultaneously, especially in such a short period. After 60 years of work, 2023 marks the TB incidence rate as 40.3 (provisional) per 100,000 people, which is more than 160 times lower than the rate in 1950. [...] However, despite these achievements, South Korea still has the highest TB incidence rate among [the] OECD countries.”
Hon. Min Seok also shared the context and history of TB in Korea, clarifying that a large part of how they managed to reduce TB incidence was through a united effort and consistent political will, from both the citizens and government.
Hon. Warren Entsch, the Global TB Caucus’ Regional Co-chair for the Asia and the Pacific, Federal Member of Parliament for Leichhardt, Queensland, Australia, raised the challenge to advance TB prevention: “We’ve seen progress in treatment, so the question is: why can’t we do the same for vaccines? This is all about future-proofing, and we must capture those successes now.”
By uniting this number of TB stakeholders, one of the goals of the summit is to leverage the broad representation, expertise, and influence of the attendees through a key Regional Joint Statement. This statement will commit to a more considered plan of action on TB, for a resilient and sustainable political response to the epidemic across the Asia Pacific, as well as galvanising meaningful national political support.
For the Global TB Caucus and all involved partners, the signing of the Regional Statement is a meaningful step towards pushing TB at the forefront of health policies in the region. Making these strides this early in the year is an excellent start to the “year of hope” in line with this year’s World TB Day theme.
The Asia-Pacific Summit culminated in a site visit to the Medanta Hospital in Haryana. Presentations from senior doctors took Members of the Caucus through their active case finding (ACF) models, which included the results of their community-partnered interventions, as well as pioneering technology in the form of equipment and TB Free mobile vans produced in collaboration with the private sector.
In a pre-pandemic era, political commitment to fighting TB was already crucial; now, it is even more urgent. 2023 is the year to reverse current trends and ramp up efforts to meet UN HLM targets.
About the Global TB Caucus
The Global TB Caucus is the world's largest independent parliamentary network with over 2,500 members from over 150 countries. The network covers 4 geographic regions: Europe and Central Asia, Africa, America, Asia-Pacific and 2 language regions - Francophone and Portuguese. Parliamentarians of the Caucus work both collectively and individually to accelerate progress in the fight against TB.
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