Parliamentarians and youth discuss how to accelerate #endTB movement
30 November 2022 – The Global TB Caucus participated in the 2nd Asia Pacific 2022 TB Forum last month, which was built around providing a platform where key TB stakeholders can unite to discuss potential collaborative venues of work, and raise awareness on key initiatives. This year’s focus was on the youth sector: Youth as a target, Youth as parents (to find children with TB), and Youth as catalysts. The forum covered a wide range of topics, including innovative patient finding practices for youth and children in APC, the impact of TB on youths and children, and other related issues.
The Caucus roundtable was focused on “Youth Advocacy to accelerate TB Eradication”: adolescence and early adulthood are increasingly recognized as key risk periods for TB infection and related complications, but there are fewer youth centred policies and programs across the Asia-Pacific region. This roundtable gave youths from various backgrounds the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask key policy makers relevant questions.
The session opened with a simple reminder: to invest love, care, support, and finances towards ending stigma, and ultimately ending TB. Afterwards, the opening address and keynote speeches were given by Christina Aman (AVPN) and Oak Yeon Kim (J&J).
Damian Facciolo from Results Australia discussed the importance of engaging young people in advocacy, and how this can ensure programs will be effective. He closed by presenting a quote from UNAIDS 2018: “When young people participate meaningfully in the implementation of policies and programmes that affect their health, services are more effectively tailored to their needs and their health outcomes improve.”
On raising involvement and mobilising youth:
Permata Silitonga (Knowledge Management Coordinator, Global Fund Principal Recipient TB Community-Based Intervention in Indonesia): “Aside from engagement, there is a need for resources and more appealing means of getting the youth involved in programs.”
Dr. Nguyen Viet Hai (Coordinator, Vietnam Integrated Centre for TB and Respirology Research, Vietnam National Tuberculosis Programme): “effectively utilising youth would come from ensuring they are well informed.”
Taoufik Bakkali (Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS): “Trust youth as leaders, for meaningful engagement. They need to be trusted and empowered.”
The Caucus panel Youth Advocacy to Accelerate TB Eradication was moderated by Dr. Snehal Bhagat (Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator, Global TB Caucus) and Ganendra Kristandya (Asia Pacific Regional Manager, Global TB Caucus).
“In what way can youth support the policy makers to make TB services more aligned to the youth and their needs?”
Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac's response was thoughtful and realistic: “[...] it is important that the youth start their involvement within the smallest community unit: their neighbourhood, et cetera. It is also beneficial to spread the word and increase awareness, so that they can provide more meaningful, informed help. It is also the government’s responsibility to raise awareness and engagement while listening to the youth, as well as CSOs who work in the same field.”
Hon. Kim Minseok (Member of the National Assembly, Republic of Korea and Asia Pacific Co-Chair of Global TB Caucus) stressed that every young person has the right to live a safe and healthy life: “There’s a substantial increase in the estimated worldwide count of TB each year, and this is more heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Youths are vulnerable to TB, and yet policies do not target this age group.”
Closing addresses were given by Juliana Chin (Regional Public Health Strategy & Impact Lead, Global Public Health, Johnson & Johnson) and Hon. Warren Entsch (Member of the Australian Parliament for Leichhardt and Asia Pacific Co-Chair of Global TB Caucus).
Hon. Entsch stressed that in order to combat TB among youth in particular, a multisectoral collaborative approach is required. He emphasised that the world needs to get back on track to meet the End TB Targets, and finished his discussion with a simple but powerful statement: “Nothing about youth, without youth, is for youth.”