"TB anywhere is TB everywhere": FPs in Western Europe exchange strategies in the fight against TB
On the 7th of May, Focal Points (FPs) of the Global TB Caucus (GTBC) in the Western Europe (WE) region participated in a first-of-its-kind event designed specifically to connect the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). As it is integral in building effective parliamentary engagement against TB in the WE, GTBC facilitated it as a means to strengthen collaborative planning and cultivate insights from CSO on-the-ground experiences.
After the GTBC Secretariat began the meeting with an introduction to its purpose and regional updates, Paul Sommerfeld from the TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) gave a comprehensive overview regarding the regional aims, issues, and actions undertaken by the organisation. The discussion afterwards touched on a range of challenges and updates experiences by the FPs, which included:
Brief updates about the national work that each CSO is currently undertaking;
Acknowledgment and consensus that engaging parliamentarians on the sole issue of Tuberculosis in a region with relatively low incidence rates is difficult.
Understanding that within the region, we must continue the message that "TB anywhere is TB everywhere" -- based on the lessons gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the invaluable learnings during the event, it was especially noted that discussing AMR-TB was previously considered to be an effective means to engage and interest Members of Parliament in the region. However, at present, Focal Points believe that discussing vaccines, R&D, and global health security is a better strategy given how crucial it is to broaden the discussion.
Participants included Beatrijs Stikkers from KNCV in the Netherlands, Agustin Martin from DSW in Brussels, Caroline Anena, Louise Cliff, Paul Sommerfeld, and Yuliia Kalancha from TB Europe Coalition, Kubra Yalcin from MSF Denmark, Tuula Vasankari from the Finnish Lung Health Association, and Mona Drage and Laila Iren Løchting from LHL International Tuberculosis Foundation in Norway.
Overall, the discussions during the meeting are expected to be presented to the Western Europe Regional Co-chairs at their next meeting, in order to influence strategy going forward.
Alesia Matusevych, EECA and CSO Manager in the GTBC Secretariat also introduced the upcoming Platform of Experts to the participants present as the meeting served to initiate its planning. The Global TB Caucus Platform of Civil Society Experts, our upcoming launch event for the Platform of Experts, will take place on June 30, 2021 and is geared to be a knowledge platform that will facilitate the sharing of expertise between parliamentarians and civil society partners, particularly in high TB burden countries.
What is a Focal Point?
Greater political engagement on TB is critical to accelerating progress against the disease, but parliamentarians know that local support of the community affected by the TB epidemic is essential to successful advocacy. The Global TB Caucus strives to identify civil society organisations in every country that are motivated to work with their local parliamentarians in the fight against TB as Focal Points.
GTBC Focal Points are autonomous independent organisations supported by the Caucus through training and technical assistance to help parliamentarians develop political leadership to end TB. Although we do not directly fund the work of Focal Points, and the decisions and actions of national groups do not bind the Global TB Caucus, nor do decisions made by the Caucus have any influence over the actions of national groups, we do recognise the critical value of their role in developing political leadership and impact in the TB response and aim to support it in all ways possible.