Ministers of Health Agree to the Goal of Zero New Deaths from TB at 67th World Health Assembly

27, May 2014 - Geneva, Switzerland - The 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) took place in Geneva from 19-25th May, bringing together government delegations at the World Health Organization’s annual meeting. The WHA is the organization’s highest decision-making authority.

The meeting marked a milestone in the global fight against tuberculosis, led by governments endorsement of a new Post-2015 Global Strategy for Tuberculosis that has an overarching goal to end the tuberculosis epidemic and achieve a 95% reduction in TB deaths by 2035.

The Stop TB Partnership and its network of partners organized events during the week, supported high-level advocacy, and spread the message to governments about the Missed 3 Million living with TB. Below are several highlights from the week:

The South Africa Minister of Health and Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board, Aaron Motsoaledi, delivered a keynote presentation titled ‘Tuberculosis: An Opportunity to Reach Zero Deaths in Our Lifetime’ to African Ministers of Health on 17 May, which can be viewed here. His key message was the need to accelerate action to reach underserved populations, including people living with MDR-TB, inmates, and miners. The Minister hosted an informal lunch for Ministers following the presentation to discuss tuberculosis control in Africa.

The new WHO Post-2015 Global Strategy for TB was approved by the World Health Assembly on 19 May with 53 delegations delivering interventions and unanimous endorsement by governments. This means the world has now agreed on a strategy to end TB as a global pandemic (an average less than 10 tuberculosis cases per 100 000 population).

Member states highlighted the growing global threat of MDR-TB, the importance of reaching vulnerable populations, and the need for new innovations and tools to fight TB. The strategy marks the most ambitious targets ever agreed by governments and will form the foundation for the new Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020. Download a copy of the strategy here, and read a news update with further details here.

A number of sessions related to tuberculosis were held during the Assembly. On 20th May, the Brazil Ministry of Health and WHO TB Department hosted a session titled ‘Winning the Global Fight Against Tuberculosis’, which was well attended by government delegations. The Brazil Minister of Health, Ademar A. Chioro dos Reis, spoke on the importance of focusing resources on poor and marginalized populations. The session was also addressed by WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, who congratulated countries on the passing of the historic resolution on the new global strategy for TB.

On 21st May, Stop TB Partnership’s Executive Secretary, Dr Lucica Ditiu, spoke on a high-level morning panel convened by the Center for Global Health Diplomacy on Financing Health in the Post-2015 Era, which can be viewed here. An evening session on Migration and TB was hosted by the International Organization for Migration and other partners. The session highlighted the growing evidence that social and economic inequalities sustain migrants’ vulnerability to TB.

On 22nd May, Médecins Sans Frontières hosted an event on overcoming MDR-TB featuring MDR-TB survivor Phumeza Tisile, who earlier in the week delivered a statement to governments and delivered 53,000 signatures from MSF’s TB Manifesto. View a video recounting her journey at the Assembly here and read her statement here.