On 26 September 2018, world leaders convened at the United Nations General Assembly for the first UN High-Level Meeting on TB. The meeting saw UN member states, including the United Kingdom, commit to drastically accelerating the global response to TB with the aim of successfully treating 40 million people by 2022.
Addressing the UN meeting, the Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP, co-chair of the APPG and the Global TB Caucus, called on world leaders to translate the commitments of the political declaration into action;
“The world believed that tuberculosis was a disease of the past, and we were asleep when it returned as an epidemic of the present. It is time to wake up.”
“I welcome the declaration. It says all the right things. But here is the key question: will the promises be translated into action?”
The UK was represented by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies.
Making remarks on behalf of the UK government, Penny Mordaunt heeded the call to ensure the cost of beating TB was fairly shared amongst nations, announcing an additional £7.5 million investment into the development new TB treatments through the product development partnership, TB Alliance.
Noting recent breakthroughs in TB research by UK universities, the Secretary of State noted; “This is a moment for us all to collectively step up our commitment to ending TB. The UK has been and will continue to be a major driver in the development and deployment of the new technologies, diagnostics and treatments we believe are crucial to fight tuberculosis and the scourge of multi-drug resistant TB.”
For the UN High-Level Meeting to mark a turning point in the global response to TB, the real work must now begin. The APPG welcomes the announcement of additional resources by the Department for International Development as well as the strong support of the Foreign Secretary, the International Development Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer.
As Mr Herbert concluded, “Let us, at last, mean what we say. Let us decide – really decide – to beat TB, once and for all, by 2030. Let us put an end to the unnecessary death and suffering. And let us make sure that every government finds the will, and the resources, to honour this promise.”