Moscow, Russia (Nov. 17, 2017) – Civil society participants highlighted the importance of building on new political resolve to end tuberculosis (TB) at the first-ever WHO Global Ministerial Conference on TB. Speaking on a panel as a TB survivor and civil society representative, ACTION TB Media Champion Ingrid Schoeman, who works with TB Proof in South Africa, stated, “The WHO estimated there are 4.1 million people around the world with TB who are not being reached by health systems; this is not just a health systems failure, it’s a global political failure.”
“Each one of you in this room has the power to end this vicious disease,” Schoeman continued. “I’m asking you, the world’s health leaders on tuberculosis, to take concrete action in fighting TB. Civil society stands with you in this fight. It’s all of our duty to own this problem and work towards solving it.”
In the Moscow Declaration to End TB, 100 countries committed to scaling up the TB response and called on other global stakeholders to invest more in TB programming and to accelerate research and development (R&D) for new tools to fight TB. The declaration is a sign of growing—but still insufficient—resolve to take the steps needed to end TB. For example, a recent report by Treatment Action Group found that while investment in TB R&D increased by $105 million in the last year, much more is needed to close the annual $1.3 billion financing gap in TB R&D.
“We applaud Ministers of Health coming together to outline what they can and will do to tackle the disease. But, there are many issues contributing to the TB epidemic that require action outside of the Ministry of Health’s areas of responsibility,” said Mandy Slutsker, ACTION Secretariat policy and advocacy manager, who represented the partnership in Moscow. “Heads of state need to take leadership in driving comprehensive efforts to end the disease.”
While TB is one of the world’s leading health challenges, many at the Ministerial Conference acknowledged that the disease could not be resolved solely through health system interventions. Civil society groups at the conference welcomed the Declaration and called on the World Health Organization to help take the commitment further. In a statement signed by 86 organizations, advocates called for WHO leadership to steer this political momentum toward a higher-level global commitment to find, test, and provide quality treatment to all people with TB through person-centered care.
The coming year could be a turning point in the fight against TB. Building on commitments made by ministers of health, heads of state will gather in September 2018 for the first-ever United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB. The High-Level Meeting is an enormous opportunity to accelerate country and global efforts and increase political attention, ambition, and accountability to end the world’s leading infectious killer. The need for more aggressive action is clear: if nothing changes in the fight against TB, the disease is estimated to cost the global economy nearly US$1 trillion by 2030, according to a recent Global TB Caucus report.
ACTION is a partnership of 12 locally rooted organizations around the world that advocate together to build political will and increase investments for global health. Our partners: Æquitas (India), CITAMplus (Zambia), Global Health Advocates France, Global Health Advocates India, KANCO (Kenya), Princess of Africa Foundation (South Africa), RESULTS International Australia, RESULTS Canada, RESULTS Educational Fund (U.S.), RESULTS Japan, RESULTS UK, and WACI Health (Kenya).
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