24 September 2014 - New York, USA - The Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board and South Africa Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, concluded a series of high-level meetings in Washington and New York on the margins of the opening of the UN General Assembly this week.
On Thursday, 17 September, the Minister met with senior members of Congress including Congressman Elliot Engel, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and co-chair of the congressional TB Elimination Caucus, Senator Sherrod Brown, longtime TB champion, and key Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. The U.S. Congress has played a critical role in prioritizing the funding for global TB programs. The Minister was accompanied by Dr. Joanne Carter, Vice-Chair of the Stop TB Board and Executive Director of RESULTS.
In his meeting with Congressman Engel, co-chair of the US House of Representatives TB Elimination Caucus, the Minister emphasized the critical role of US support for global TB programs and highlighted the strong progress that has been made in Africa in part due to US government support.
Minister Motsoaledi highlighted South Africa’s roll-out of expanded access to rapid TB diagnosis with GeneXpert machines with support by the Global Fund and the US government. He shared the significant challenges posed by a lack of access and prohibitive costs of new TB drugs in South Africa and also emphasized the continued threat of drug resistant TB to nurses, doctors and other health workers. The threat of drug resistant TB comes on the back of recent global concern for antimicrobial resistance.
The Minister held a series of high-level meetings in New York jointly organized by the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This included a briefing on TB for Africa Union Ambassadors to the UN, where he called on their support to give TB increased political attention. "Tuberculosis needs to be elevated as an urgent political issue within the UN system to ensure it receives the political will needed to reach zero new TB deaths. We, in the Stop TB Partnership and in Africa, need to be more ambitious," said Minister Motsoaledi while speaking to Ambassadors.
While in New York, the Minister conducted interviews focusing on TB with the New York Times, Bloomberg and other media outlets. The Minister also met Christian Paradis, Canadian Minister for International Development, who he thanked for Canada's strong support for the Stop TB Partnership's TB REACH program, which provides grants to innovative projects to increase TB case detection among poor and vulnerable populations. He also addressed the UN General Assembly on the growing Ebola crisis.