Stop TB Partnership welcomes launch of parliamentary caucus on TB and HIV in Canada

23 June 2010 - Ottawa, Canada - The Stop TB Partnership congratulates the Canadian Parliamentarians who launched the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (HAT) Parliamentary Caucus last week. "We look forward to supporting efforts on raising global awareness about TB by these Canadian MPs as well as those in other key donor countries like the United Kingdom, which already has an active All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis," said Dr Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

Some 200 advocates, parliamentarians, community leaders and stakeholders came together in Ottawa on Parliament Hill last Monday to participate in the inaugural launch of the caucus, whose creation was initiated by MP Dr Ruby Dhalla. The caucus is co-chaired by Dhalla and MPs Lois Brown from the Conservative Party, Johanne Deschamps from the Bloc Québécois, and Megan Leslie from the New Democratic Party. Their goal is to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and TB in Canada's parliament and to create a forum within parliament for the exchange of ideas to help support and increase access to care and treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS and TB.

"It was refreshing to see so many parliamentarians and senators in attendance last night who put partisanship aside and united in their support for fighting these global health challenges of HIV/AIDS and TB. The creation of the HAT caucus is a tribute to the survivors, volunteers and advocates who have worked tirelessly to develop solutions and raise awareness. Change for the better can be achieved through our collective and collaborative efforts," Dhalla said.

The HAT Caucus was launched with internationally renowned guest speaker Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. "The emergence of the HAT Caucus is a significant development on the Canadian political scene," Lewis said.

Dr James Orbinski, founder of Dignitas International and former President of Doctors Without Borders, also was a speaker. "The HAT Caucus has emerged because Canadian Parliamentarians recognize that HIV/AIDS and TB are critical global health challenges that must be addressed, regardless of political affiliation. My hope is that through a greater awareness of the challenges faced, our government can take informed, practical and equitable action for the benefit of the global community," Dr Orbinski said.