The Affected Communities and Civil Society Advisory Panel convened its first meeting on 10 October 2017 with the support of the Stop TB Partnership and International Civil Society Support (ICSS) at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The meeting was opened by Stop TB Partnership board member Austin Obiefuna, who noted the importance of conducting their role in the spirit of partnership and collaboration, being strategic and coordinated, and ultimately ensuring that the voice and priorities of communities are represented during all aspects of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB.
The group came together as a result of a Request for Proposals (RFP) previously released by the Affected Community and Civil Society members of the Stop TB Partnership Board. For additional information about the panel and its members, please see the text of the letter below.
Affected communities and civil society have an important role to play on the path to ending TB.
The United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB (UN HLM) presents us as affected communities and civil society with a unique opportunity to raise TB as a political priority. The UN HLM should result in an ambitious Political Declaration on TB endorsed by Heads of State that will form the basis for the future TB response. It should secure commitment from Heads of State and governments for a coordinated global response, result in a substantial increase in financial resources for TB, and lead to millions of lives being saved from premature deaths from TB. It should also endorse measurable targets and commitments from governments and key stakeholders for 2020 and 2025 on which they can be monitored and held accountable through regular reporting.
In July 2017, during a meeting of over 70 TB community advocates and network representatives, there was an agreement that a Panel to represent affected communities and civil society needed to be established and that community engagement needed strategic coordination at the global level. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was drafted and released by the Affected Community and Civil Society members of the Stop TB Partnership Board. The RFP called for submissions in two categories:
1. Affected Communities and Civil Society Advisory Panel: Individuals representing TB-affected community constituencies or individual representatives from organizations working with affected TB communities, to guide HLM community engagement, mobilise support and represent advocacy priorities of the communities they represent.
2. Affected Communities and Civil Society UN HLM Coordination: An organization, to communicate and coordinate the Advisory Panel, as well as affected communities and civil society generally, prior to and during the UN HLM.
The RFP outlined criteria for each category and, with particular reference to the Advisory Panel, there was a commitment to having regional representation, including through TB Networks (including GCTA, WHO CSTF, ACT Asia-Pacific, ACT Africa, Americas TB Coalition and REDTBLAC, TB People Eurasia, TBEC Europe). We were also committed to representation of or expertise in TB key populations (people living with HIV, miners, people who use drugs, urban poor, among others) and diverse expertise and skill sets relevant to the TB response.
With the exception of representation from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, we are thrilled that the Panel has representation from these groups. In relation to the MENA, it is our understanding that an engagement meeting for the region will be scheduled for early 2018, and as part of this, representation for this region can also be endorsed.
There were close to 50 applications for the Panel. Many of the applications were extremely strong and we are highly optimistic that as a collective we will be able to work towards achieving a strong, inclusive and accountable HLM Political Declaration. After a rigorous selection process, the following people were selected for the Community and Civil Society Advisory Panel:
Louie Teng, Dean Lewis, Jeff Acaba, Donald Tobaiwa, Ingrid Schoeman, Endalkachew Fekadu, Evaline Kibuchi, Bertrand Kampoer, Abdulai Sesay, Mike Frick, Mandy Slutsker, Yuliya Chorna, Safar Naimov, Kathy Eridania Brito Garcia, Leonid Lecca Garcia. Additionally, and as proposed by TBEC, Olha Klimenko will be mentored by Panel members from her region.
With regard to the coordination role, we received several applications. The standout application was from International Civil Society Support (ICSS). Their extensive advocacy and engagement planning will ensure that the Advisory Panel and broader community and civil society are mobilized and engaged.
Thank you to all organizations and advocates for their submissions. For us, it has been heartwarming and inspiring to see the growth of community-based advocacy in the TB response. As we continue to grow in numbers but remain unified in our messaging, we can together effectively contribute to ending TB. We look forward to working with the Community and Civil Society Advisory Panel, and our communities more generally, as we move toward the UN HLM.
Civil Society Board Members of Stop TB Partnership