The Executive Committee meets online
On May 29th, The Global TB Caucus held its Executive Committee meeting online, with the participation of co-chairs from all regions. The purpose of it was to share updates of the regions’ work since the last Executive Committee meeting, discuss the impact of COVID-19 in the regions as well as adopt a Statement of Intent on TB and COVID-19 to guide our work.
Executive Committee members who joined included Rt Hon Nick Herbert CBE, United Kingdom, Hon Abubakar Dahiru Sarki, Nigeria, Hon Angelina Tan, Philippines, Hon Gisela Scaglia, Argentina, Hon Anne Kuik, Netherlands, Sénateur Pierre Ngayap, Cameroon, Hon Elma Dienda, Namibia, Baroness Alison Suttie, United Kingdom, Hon Dr Chris Kalila, Zambia, Hon Luis Gallo, Uruguay, Hon Lada Bulakh, Ukraine, Hon Stephen Mule, Kenya, Hon Warren Entsch MP, Australia, Hon Luz Salgado, Peru, Hon Gabriel Serville, France and Hon Claudio Marte, Dominican Republic. Jamshed Murtazaqulov, Tajikistan and Mdb Stephan Albani, Germany were apologies.
The meeting was chaired by Rt Hon Nick Herbert CBE, Global Co-Chair of the Global TB Caucus. In his opening remarks he discussed the importance of reaching across political and geographical divides to build commitment in members’ own countries and beyond to secure a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the TB epidemic, based on the right of every human being to health.
Updates were shared from the regions and there was general agreement that since the onset of the pandemic, there have been disruptions in almost all countries with a serious toll on countries’ economies due to enforced lockdowns, increasing mortality, as well as rising mental health issues as people find it difficult to adjust to the new restrictions. The Western countries have been hit hard by the Pandemic, with the Americas currently recording the highest number of infections and deaths while Africa remains a cause of concern with its low numbers, largely attributed to low testing.
Efforts are being made in the various regions of the Caucus to ensure that there is continuation of our work with virtual meetings being held and members of parliaments sitting on National Task forces on COVID-19 in their respective countries. Members agreed that now was the time to advance the TB agenda so that the gains made over the years are not eroded.
Sarah Kirk the Head of the Caucus Secretariat shared a paper on the GTBC and COVID-19 direction, summarising the Caucus’ immediate priorities;
ensure continued political engagement to keep TB on the political agenda, and share information on COVID-19
inform MPs on priority parliamentary interventions to take to address the immediate impact of COVID-19 on TB programs and people affected by TB
provide the MPs with advocacy tools to prepare for the coming recession/depression and safeguard TB and health budgets
She also emphasised the need for the Caucus to remain committed to ensuring that the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB targets are met, and will continue on a rolling basis to evaluate the Caucus activities to be COVID-19 sensitive, while not losing sight of our main goal - ending TB, especially in light of the expected economic recessions. The expected outcomes the Caucus hope to achieve through our COVID-19 and TB work include;
As much as possible, limit the impact that COVID-19 has on TB programs
As much as possible, scale up and increase advocacy on TB, to prepare for coming budget austerity measures in the post COVID-19 recession
Honourable Congresswoman Helen Tan MP led the discussion on the review of the statement of intent which after a few edits was approved by all members and will be distributed to Parliaments, Heads of State and all networks.
Closing, Rt Hon Nick Herbert CBE, showed appreciation to all members who participated in the call. He reiterated the need to continue strengthening the fight against TB as well as COVID-19 and also thanked the secretariat for their creativity in the continuation of activities during the crisis. "If we were already scaling a mountain to end TB, it just became Everest", he said, as he concluded the meeting encouraging everyone to take a step and commit more than ever to work towards ending TB.