This week marked another significant step forward in the fight against TB in Brazil as Global TB Caucus co-chairman, the Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP, visited the Brazilian Congress in Brasilia.
Invited by Congressman Antonio Brito, one of the founding members of the Global TB Caucus, Mr Herbert attended a series of public events and private meetings to discuss the Global TB Caucus and the fight against TB in Brazil.
He was joined in Brasilia by renowned economist, Lord O'Neill, and Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, who were also visiting Brazil to discuss the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The programme began with a special committee hearing of the Social Affairs and Family Committee of which Congressman Brito is chairman. In a wide ranging discussion, Mr Herbert outlined the importance of TB within the broader agenda, as well as praising Brazil for the progress it has made against the epidemic.
Following the Committee Hearing, Lord O'Neill, Dame Sally, and Mr Herbert met privately with members of the Social Affairs Committee to discuss the role Brazil could play as a regional and global leader against the disease. The delegation also met the new Brazilian Minister of Health, Marcelo Castro, to discuss the TB epidemic in Brazil.
Earlier in the week, Mr Herbert was invited to visit Rocinha favela by the President of Stop TB Brazil, Carlos Basilia and local activisit, Rita Smith. Rocinha has some of the highest rates of the disease anywhere in Brazil, and Mr Herbert saw first-hand the challenging social and economic conditions which contribute to the spread of the disease.
In a wide-ranging visit Mr Herbert spoke to people from the favela who have been affected by TB, as well as visiting a community health centre. In recent years, TB rates in Rocinha have fell sharply due to the efforts of local activisits such as Rita and Carlos, and the work of the National TB Programme in Brazil. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain.
In the final meeting of the week, Congressman Antonio Brito declared his intention to launch a TB Caucus of the Americas, to lead regional efforts to tackle the disease.
Special thanks to Mr Draurio Barrera, Cintia Dantas, and Luciana Nemeth from the Brazilian National TB Programme and to Caique Borges and all at the British Embassy for their support during the visit.