21 March, New York, USA -- Stop TB Partnership and World Health organization (WHO) Geneva organized a high-level mission briefing at the UN Headquarters to commemorate the World TB Day 2018 and to galvanizing political leadership and ensure greater participation at the UN High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on TB on 26 September this year.
Despite the raging snow storm in New York that day, the event was attended by a large number of Ambassadors and deputy representatives of permanent missions including Japan, Brazil, Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Morocco, Philippines in addition to significant representation by other UN agencies including the office of the President of the General Assembly, partners, civil society and media.
The event opened with a welcome video message from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General who thanked the Stop TB Partnership for their tremendous efforts in bringing all partners together and stimulating people from across the globe to come together and join hands in their fight to end TB. While presiding the session, Dr Nata Menabde, Executive Director of the WHO office at the UN emphasized that “it is about time we all must come together to end TB.” In her introductory remarks, Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director WHO Global TB Programme said that “she is inspired with the momentum that started last year with the Ministerial Conference on TB in Moscow, continued with the Delhi End TB summit and reinforced with the overwhelming support in New York to end TB.”
The distinguished panelists included the two TB survivors, Ms Ingrid Schoeman and Mr Jeffry Acaba, who came all the way from South Africa and Philippines, respectively, to share their personal stories of overcoming TB battling societal stigma to lead normal lives. They urged the country representatives to help millions of people affected by TB in their own countries and across the globe. Ms Schoeman specifically praised South African Health Minister and Chair of Stop TB Partnership Board Aaron Motsoaledi for his leadership to end TB. Mr Acaba urged the political leadership and the private sector to work together and find new vaccines for TB.
Speaking on the occasion, the Japanese Ambassador and permanent representative, Koro Bessho, said that “despite Japan’s best efforts to end TB in Japan, we are not yet fully there and struggling to end TB in Japan.” Adding that “lack of awareness about TB amongst people remains a greatest barrier towards ending TB in Japan.” Being one of the co-facilitators to the UN HLM together with Antigua and Barbuda, Ambassador Bessho assured the participants “Japan’s utmost support to a successful HLM and encouraged countries to act and make history.” Ambassador Frederico Meyer, Deputy PR of Brazil and Mr Sergey Kononuchenko Deputy PR of Russia also affirmed their countries support to the UN HLM and encouraged other leaders to come forward and join hands to end TB by 2030.
Dr Eric Goosby, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for TB emphasized that integration is key to achieving targets to end TB by 2030. He was joined in his stance by Dr Michel Sidibe, Executive Director UNAIDS, who said that “SDG 3 will not be achieved by 2030 if we don’t end TB.” Dr Stefan Peterson, Associate Director Health UNICEF said that ‘it is high time we recognize the collective impact of TB on children. TB is not a disease of adults alone, it impacts children and deserves greater political focus and attention,” Said Dr Peterson.
On behalf of the Stop TB Partnership Executive Director, Lucica Ditiu, Unjela Kaleem, Head of Advocacy and Communications, Stop TB Partnership put forward the headline key asks for consideration of the heads of state and governments emphasizing that the key asks are reflective of the aspirations of civil society, TB survivors, partners and supporters from across the globe. The key asks for ending the TB epidemic, which were recently approved by the Stop TB Board comprise:
Participants appreciated the suggested key asks and recognized the collaborative efforts put together by Stop TB Partnership, WHO, USAID, civil society, TB Survivors and other partners for making HLM on TB a historical moment to spur political resolve to end TB.
The meeting ended with the unveiling of a 3D installation of the Red Arrow End TB and SGD End TB logos to commemorate the WTBD 2018 ahead of the UNHLM. The installation is a joint initiative of the Stop TB Partnership and WHO and it will be exposed in front of the UN Headquarters building in New York.