(New York) — Today, UN Member States will come together at the UN Headquarters in New York City for the first “High Level Meeting” on TB, where countries will ratify a political declaration on tuberculosis (TB). Despite pressure, and securing several concrete pledges on expanding service delivery, the declaration falls short in its response to the leading infectious killer worldwide and the leading cause of death for people with HIV around the world. In order to have a meaningful impact on the TB epidemic, finally confront an infectious disease killing 4,500 people per day, and get serious about ending TB as a global epidemic, here is what the political declaration should have said:
“Tuberculosis is a global emergency that kills over one and a half million people every year. It is the leading killer of people with HIV. Yet, collectively we have failed to respond effectively to TB, because it mainly affects poor people including criminalised and marginalised communities such as people who use drugs, prisoners and their communities. We recognise our collective and individual failures. Withthis declaration we make it clear that the old ways are not and never were good enough.
We commit to putting the money needed for TB research and for TB programmes on the table.
We commit to implementing and aggressively scaling up access to the latest evidence-based health technologies and policies in our countries. In short, we commit to ensuring that every single person who has TB receives the best available testing, treatments, and support – irrespective of their ability to pay or in which country they may live. In pursuit of this goal, we place human rights, and particularly the right to health, ahead of private interests and short-term political considerations.
In particular, we will take the following concrete steps:
Health Global Access Project (Health GAP)
Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA)
The Global Tuberculosis Community Advisory Board (TB CAB)
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)
The Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN)
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
Treatment Action Group (TAG)