‘A Deadly Divide’ On Human Rights Day, TB-Affected Communities Call for A Rights-Based TB Response to a Human Rights Disaster

Today, as the world reaffirms the importance of human rights, some 4,000 people will die from a disease that is both preventable and treatable, among them 700 children.

Geneva, Switzerland, 10 December 2020 - Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the world’s biggest infectious killers, resulting in 15 million unnecessary deaths in the last decade. TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. Despite grand promises by the world’s leaders at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018, we have seen insufficient progress to fulfil the targets and commitments contained within the Political Declaration on TB.
This deadly divide between words and action, and in the level of resources available to countries with a high burden of TB, has been documented by TB-affected communities and civil society in a groundbreaking report, A Deadly Divide: TB Commitments versus TB RealitiesThe new report, which complements the 2020 Progress Report of the UN Secretary-General, outlines the urgent need for a TB response that is equitable, community-led, right-based, and people-centered.
Developed by the Stop TB Delegations that represent Affected Communities, Developing Country NGOs, and Developed Country NGOs, with inputs from 150 community partners from over 60 countries, the report provides operational guidance on how countries and other stakeholders can realize the necessary paradigm shift. The people behind the report represent an unrelenting global movement of people affected by TB demanding that their rights be recognized and realized.
A Deadly Divide includes a Call to Action that focuses on six key Areas of Action, based on the 5 key asks that TB communities presented at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018, with the addition of a sixth Area of Action on COVID-19. These are: 1) reaching all people through TB detection, diagnosis, treatment, care and prevention; 2) making the TB response rights based, equitable and stigma-free, with communities at the center; 3) accelerating the development of, and access to, new tools to end TB; 4) investing the funds necessary to end TB; 5) committing to multisectoral accountability and leadership on TB; and 6) leveraging COVID-19 as a strategic opportunity to end TB.
Welcoming the report, and in recognition of Human Rights Day, Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, said, “TB is not just a health issue – it is first and foremost a human rights and social justice issue. Unfortunately, the TB response has been a human rights disaster. 4,000 unnecessary deaths each day represent a grave and unforgivable violation of the human rights of each of those people and their families.”
“We must learn from the past and never again allow a situation where a person’s place of birth, ethnicity, race, religion, economic status, or vulnerability influences the tools and quality of care that are available to them,” Dr. Ditiu continued. “To end TB, we need comprehensive human rights policies and programs at the center of the TB response, and this must be adequately funded through mechanisms, such as Stop TB’s Challenge Facility for Civil Society.”
The Call to Action builds on the 2019 Declaration of the Rights of People Affected by TB, in which the global TB community reaffirmed the range of human rights of particular relevance for them, and called for a TB response that protects and promotes the human rights of people affected by TB.
The key findings of A Deadly Divide have been shared in a series of regional online launch events co-hosted by the Global TB Caucus and regional TB advocacy networks, reaching key TB stakeholders in Asia PacificAnglophone AfricaFrancophone Africa, Middle East and North Africa, the AmericasEastern Europe and Central Asia, and Lusophone countries. Joining various events to raise their voices in support of action to end TB were well-known personalities and TB Champions Bebecool, Florent Ibenge, Gilberto Mendes, Johana Bahamon, Noziya Karomatullo, Richard Mofe-Damijo, and Sania Saeed.
The report and accompanying advocacy and media toolkit are now available in English, with translations in Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish to be released next week.

Members of TB-affected communities, civil society, and other key stakeholders reflect on the significance of this landmark report:

“We welcome the Deadly Divide report. As parliamentarians, we listen to the voices of people affected by TB, as conveyed through the Deadly Divide, and commit to not leave anyone behind. We understand that communities need to be at the center of a strong political response to TB. We commit to working together with you all to implement the recommendations.” -  Hon. Gisela Scaglia MP, Global TB Caucus, Argentina

“I find the title striking – as for TB there has been and remains a deadly divide in terms of realizing our targets and commitments. We must all work together to close this gap. I applaud the approach of focusing on the existing targets through the Call to Action with its six key Areas of Action.” -  Hon. Dr. Nisar Cheema MP, Pakistan

“A Deadly Divide and the Call to Action represent a wonderful achievement, and something of which we should be proud. But we must not rest. We must step up. We must advocate to our political leaders to prioritize, to donors to invest, and to journalists and celebrities to raise their voices to promote and protect the human rights of those most vulnerable, those who are marginalized – to end TB.” -  Choub Sok Chamreun, Stop TB Developing Country NGO Delegation, Cambodia

“The report features a powerful Call to Action that, if supported by governments, donors, private sector, and technical partners, and monitored by TB-affected communities, will help the global TB response to bridge the deadly divide. This will help to create TB realities that better reflect the TB commitments in the Political Declaration.” -  Maxime Lunga, Stop TB Affected Community Delegation, Democratic Republic of Congo

“A Deadly Divide is a first for TB and a remarkable milestone, drawing together 25 community case studies and inputs from over 150 civil society partners from over 60 countries. TB-affected communities and civil society have graduated from a few disconnected voices to a coordinated global movement for positive change.” - Thoko Nkhoma, Stop TB Affected Community Delegation, Malawi

“This report gives a voice to TB affected communities, demonstrates the critical and central role that TB affected communities play in monitoring and accountability for TB targets and commitments, and provides a clear TB affected community and civil society lens and vision for the global TB response.”  -  Stela Bivol, Stop TB Developing Country NGO Delegation, Republic of Moldova

“The first five Areas of Actions draw on the ‘5 key asks’ that the global TB community took to the United Nations High-Level Meeting in 2018, and that formed the basis of the Political Declaration. The sixth Area of Action was added to reflect the urgent need to build back better, since COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities and social injustice. A Deadly Divide complements the UN Secretary-General’s 2020 Progress Report by providing supplementary evidence, experience, reflections, and practical calls to action from the perspective of TB-affected communities and civil society. If world leaders listen, we can achieve the UNHLM targets and commitments.” - Aaron Oxley, Stop TB Developed Country NGO Delegation, United Kingdom

“To bridge the Deadly Divide, we must fully fund TB-affected community and civil society. Challenge Facility is the mechanism to do this. We have recently seen funding triple for this mechanism. But this must be just the start and we need more donors to contribute to this catalytic initiative.” - Olive Mumba, Stop TB Developing Country NGO Delegation, United Republic of Tanzania

A Deadly Divide: TB Commitments vs. TB Realities