United Nations General Assembly Will Convene Historic High-Level Meeting on TB with Heads of State

15 December 2016 - Geneva, Switzerland - Following a campaign launched by Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board and Minister of Health of South Africa, the United Nations General Assembly has agreed to hold a High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Tuberculosis through a resolution endorsed today by member states at UN headquarters in New York.

The resolution was tabled by the Global Health and Foreign Policy Initiative, a UN country grouping which includes South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, France, Norway, Senegal, and Indonesia. The resolution, and specifically the text calling for the UN HLM on TB, was agreed unanimously by member states following a campaign by the global TB community and Stop TB partner organizations.

"As the Chair of the Board of the Stop TB Partnership, and Minister of Health of South Africa I welcome the decision by the United Nations to hold a High-Level Meeting in 2018 on the fight against tuberculosis. When I was giving my inputs on behalf of the Stop TB Partnership on Anti-microbial Resistance, I made a call that a high level meeting also be convened for TB by the UN. This is because 30% of Anti-microbial Resistance is due to Multi-drug Resistant TB; and also because TB is the number one killer of all infectious diseases in the world today," said Dr. Motsoaledi.

"The high-level meeting on tuberculosis will heighten awareness of the social and economic devastation caused by this age- old disease and the need for urgent global attention to end TB as a public health threat by 2030. I wish to thank Member States for their support in ensuring that our request for a High Level Meeting was approved so speedily by the UN today," he continued.

A High-Level Meeting is a special session of the United Nations General Assembly convened by governments on issues of global political importance. Previous HLMs have resulted in action orientated UN political declarations endorsed by Heads of State, which have formed the basis for accelerated national efforts. The HLM on TB will be the fifth time in history UN member states have convened a High-Level Meeting devoted to a health issue, following previous meetings on HIV/AIDS (2001), Non-communicable diseases (2011), Ebola (2014) and Antimicrobial Resistance (2015).

"I commend UN member states on today’s agreement to hold a United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018. Canada is a leading funder of global TB efforts through our support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Stop TB Partnership’s TB REACH programme. We need to significantly scale-up the use of innovative approaches if we are going to end this epidemic by 2030, and we call on all member states to support the UN High-Level Meeting on TB," said Ms. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Canada.

UN member states will convene future meetings to determine the date, agenda, and scope of the meeting. The President of the UN General Assembly is expected to appoint two member states as ‘co-facilitators’, who will be responsible for overseeing arrangements and negotiations in the lead up to the HLM.

"Top political commitment is needed to turn around the serious TB epidemic. Thailand is proud to be one of the first supporters for the UN High-Level Meeting on TB. The UN High-Level Meeting will ensure a historic tipping point in the fight against the world’s leading infectious killer. Together, we can tip the situation," said Mr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Minister of Public Health, Thailand.

Following the launch of the campaign for a UN High-Level Meeting in September 2016 in New York, TB organizations and partners around the world have reached out to their governments, parliamentarians, and key leaders to secure support for the HLM on TB. The campaign drew widespread support from member states given that TB is now the world’s leading infectious killer, both globally and in low-income countries, causing 1.8 million deaths in 2015.

The Stop TB Partnership will provide regular updates and will convene consultations to ensure strong coordination among partners in the lead up to the UN High-Level Meeting.

"This is a historical moment for the TB community. The UN High-Level Meeting is a significant step on the path to end TB," said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

"Heads of State, governments, civil society and the private sector must offer their highest level of political commitment, focus on concrete outputs, make their voices heard, and offer innovative solutions to the TB epidemic. If the TB community unites our efforts, the HLM will go down in history as the moment the world came together to end TB," said Dr. Ditiu

"Today’s historic announcement by UN member states sends a clear message that tuberculosis is a global emergency that demands a political response at the highest levels. The United Nations brings together governments and partners in a way that no other global body can. I am confident Heads of State and government Ministers will fully support and participate in this meeting.

I am proud to have launched the call for a UN High-Level Meeting on TB with Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board and Minister of Health of South Africa, at the Stop TB Partnership Board Meeting in New York in September 2016. As the UN partnership tasked with leading the global TB response, I am confident the Stop TB Partnership will unite all partners and serve as the leading voice to ensure strong outcomes from the High-Level Meeting.

No disease in history has crossed as many borders and inflicted as much damage as TB. I look forward to assisting through my role as the Wife of the President of Nigeria and as a TB Ambassador to mobilize other First Ladies all over the world to ensure a successful High-Level Meeting on TB."

"Tuberculosis and especially drug resistant TB are among the greatest threats to an effective AIDS response. A UN high level meeting can generate the political will and joint effort that is needed to promote bette prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB and HIV."

"Today’s agreement by member states to hold a High-Level meeting on TB is a historic opportunity to bring Heads of State and governments to the TB fight and mobilize the resources needed to end TB by 2030. The Global Fund’s investments have supported programs that put over 15 million people with TB treatment. This is one of the most cost effective investments the world can make to save lives and bring people out of poverty."

"TB tragically kills nearly 5000 people per day despite the fact that it is treatable. Ending TB requires the broad support of the global health community to diagnose and cure every person living with TB. The HLM is a critical step in converging the political will to succeed."

"The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is proud to support the UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis agreed to today by UN member states. As one of the leading donors for global TB efforts, we hope this meeting will galvanize the increased investments in TB needed to scale up the global response. The United States is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and to ending TB as outlined in the U.S. Government Global Tuberculosis Strategy (2015-2019) and the White House National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis."

"The UN High-Level meeting is a critical opportunity for the world to come together to tackle the technical, financial, and political challenges that have allowed TB to become the greatest infectious killer globally. Together we must make sure this is more than just a meeting, but a driver of a new era of ambition, investment, and progress toward ending TB. As Vice-Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board, I am proud of the role the Partnership has had in the campaign for the UN High-level Meeting, and grateful to all the partners who helped make this a reality. We are committed to making this meeting a turning point in the TB fight."