Heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly have committed to ensure 40 million people with tuberculosis (TB) are successfully treated by 2022. They have also agreed 30 million people will receive preventative treatment by 2022 to protect them from developing the disease.
The Political Declaration on the Fight Against TB was publicly endorsed at the first High-Level Meeting on TB in New York. Leaders also reaffirmed the commitment to end the TB epidemic globally by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals target.
“Today is a landmark in the long war on TB,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “These are bold promises – to keep them partnership is vital. WHO is committed to working with every country, every partner and every community to get the job done.”
The Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the “vicious” TB epidemic is drastically under-funded, with a gap of around $13 billion a year. She called for a system-wide approach to ending TB that promotes the broader health and wellbeing of entire communities and breaking out of “disease-specific silos and single goals.”
Heads of state and government agreed to mobilise $13 billion a year by 2022 to implement TB prevention and care. A further $2 billion was committed for research.
President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés said funding and research for TB needs to be “dramatically scaled up.”
“We have before us the opportunity for a clear win – a chance to save the lives of millions, to preserve billions in resources, to demonstrate the success of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to reaffirm the utility, efficacy and necessity of multilateralism and the UN System,” she said.
Professor James Newell, Co-Director of COMDIS-HSD, said:
“I am delighted to see the UN High-Level Meeting’s endorsement of the Political Declaration on TB, which has great potential to increase political awareness of the importance of TB as an ongoing global problem.
“However, we must not miss the opportunities that the High-Level Meeting have brought, and allow TB to once again slip from the notice of politicians.”
Speaking on behalf of the UK Government, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
“Today we have seen a Political Declaration that signals a step change in the international leadership commitments necessary to drive progress in fighting TB.
“TB is the biggest killer among infectious diseases globally. The UK is already leading the way to tackle TB through investment in research and development. UK aid will help develop three new TB drugs, which offer quicker-acting treatments for the millions of people affected by drug-resistant TB each year.
Commenting on this announcement, Professor Newell said:
“The UK government should be commended for the substantial support it provides to TB programmes and for research to develop new drugs for TB.
“However, we should remember that drugs alone is not the answer – it is widely recognised that TB is a social disease, and it is vital we understand and respond to the social circumstances that make TB so difficult to treat and control.”