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  • Writer's pictureGlobal TB Caucus

Regional leaders, parliamentarians, and stakeholders pledge to drive UNHLM on TB commitments in the Asia and Pacific and beyond

March 14-15, 2024 -- The Stop TB Partnership recently hosted its Regional Dialogue for Asia & The Pacific, in Manila, Philippines. One of this year’s first major discussions on TB, the two days focused on “Achieving the UN High Level Meeting Commitments on TB”. 

The Philippines shoulders one of the world’s most significant TB burdens, and holding this regional dialogue in its capital city represents the importance of united work against TB; the willingness of everyone in the TB sphere to collaborate on creating sustainable solutions with a lasting, positive impact. The Global TB Caucus delegation brought parliamentarians and ministers of health from across the region to join the discussion, and share their respective best practices and experiences.

Representing the host country, spokespersons articulated the energy needed to ensure that tuberculosis is eliminated once and for all. The Philippines’ Secretary of Health, Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, shared key points and sentiments representative of the country’s stance: “we stand in solidarity with all of you, fostering collaboration with partners and other states [...] Let us continue to work together, so that we leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a tuberculosis-free future.” In his emotional speech, Joegene V. Mangilaya of TBPeople represented those affected by TB and shared his own experiences dealing with the disease.

The dialogue also saw the participation of key regional representatives. Dr. Mao Tan Eang (Under-secretary of State, Ministry of Health, Cambodia) restated Cambodia’s commitment to the global fight against TB, and reminded everyone present that “to end TB, we need support from everybody—funding, government, patients—to reach these targets.” Dr. Hout Chan Yuda shared Cambodia’s long-term goals: reducing estimated TB incidence by 80% and mortality by 90% by 2030. 

Dr. Imran Pambudi (MPHM, Director of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, Directorate General Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia), discussed Indonesia’s comprehensive measures that have led to their strides against the disease: ambitious goals, cross-sectoral support, and bi-weekly meetings with the Minister of Health to monitor achievements and follow up on key takeaways. All of these are founded on accelerating TB case finding, initiating treatment, and ensuring successful treatment outcomes. 

Common threads across discussions included the importance of keeping TB on the agenda in summits and legislative deliberations; the power of clear, human-centred communication, and striving to increase awareness amongst the general public. 

Hon. Emanuel Melkiades Laka Lena (APC TB Caucus, Chairman of Commission IX, House of Representatives, Republic of Indonesia) gave a rousing speech: “My recent participation in global events like the [Future-Proof: Asia-Pacific] TB Summit in India and the UN High-Level Meeting on TB in New York has highlighted the urgent need for widespread awareness to combat TB. Recognizing the strong global support for this cause, I emphasise the crucial role of initiating comprehensive awareness campaigns across sectors. By engaging many stakeholders and the public, we can effectively educate about the risks, prevention, and treatment of TB, so we can reduce burden and improve public health outcomes both nationally and internationally.” He also discussed the power of fighting TB stigma via effective education. 

On the second day, Eliud Wandwalo (Head of TB, Global Fund) stressed the need for an elevated philanthropic presence in the TB sphere and encouraged government collaboration while considering the ways policy translates into funding; closing with a clear perspective on balance: “Discussions at equal level are a catalyst: financing is not either/or, it is both/and. Domestic and international; collaborative, so on.” 

Dr. Mao Tan Eang prompted further reflection: “How can we lay long term plans that ensure progress? I still believe that we can end TB if everyone works together, but we need more action.”

Meanwhile, Dinesh Arora (Principal Health Specialist, ADB) pledged his commitment to speak to colleagues and constituents about securing an investment of $1 billion USD over the next three years to bridge gaps; but stressed that this endeavour would need everyone’s help and involvement.

Hon. Robert Naguri (MP of Papua New Guinea and Member of the Papua New Guinea TB Caucus) shared three points he believes are instrumental in navigating work against TB: a “big picture” perspective: perceiving region alongside country; inclusivity: translating global targets into national, local, and district levels; and the role of Members of Parliament: increased MP engagement towards openly communicating the importance of TB and adequately securing funding. He also stressed the importance of giving MPs the necessary data and perspectives to translate things into action. He closed by saying: “It’s good to say “Yes, we can end TB”, but I believe it’s better to say “Yes, we will end TB.” Dr. Margaret Kal (Papua New Guinea) pledged to work alongside The Global TB Caucus to draft an investment case and secure funding towards meaningful investments. 

Finally, Dr. Teodoro Herbosa and Lucica Ditiu closed on a united vision: “With everyone’s continued commitment, we can end TB.” A clear stance and synthesis of the two-day dialogue, which The Global TB Caucus gives its united support.


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