Peers press government to step up action on TB

Today, Members of the House of Lords pressed the government to step up its efforts in the global fight against TB to ensure that the world reached the targets of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.

Lord Collins of Highbury led today's Oral Question in the House of Lord's Chamber, "to ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to support the global fight against tuberculosis, in the light of tuberculosis being the leading cause of death globally among people living with HIV/AIDS"

Lord Bates, answering on behalf of the Government, noted the UK's leading contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Both Lord Collins and Lord Alton went on to press the government to take further action to ensure the integration of HIV and TB programmes throughout its programmes, as recommended by the World Health Organization, with Lord Alton also going on to raise concerns over recent drug stock outs.

Baroness Sheehan noted recent breakthroughs in the development of effective TB vaccines and asked the Government to recogniser its decision not to fund this research. Lord Bates noted that while the Government had funded this work previously, projects had to be de-prioritised given the demand on resources. He went on to emphasise, however, that this decision could be re-evaluated should more promising vaccine trials commence.

Lord Berkeley spoke openly about how his own life was saved thanks to the TB treatment provided by the NHS and emphasised the role of poverty exasperating the disease. Lord Black of Brentwood meanwhile raised concerns over the impact of discriminatory laws in the fight against HIV and TB, calling on the government to push countries to decriminalise homosexuality.

The final supplementary question was asked by the Lord Bishop of St Albans who noted that while the UK's substantial contribution to the fight against TB ought to be praised, the persistence of a sizeable funding gap was of grave concern and asked what plans the Government had to draw together international partners to give TB a much higher priority to ensure TB treatment was widely available.

Lord Bates closed the exchange by noting the role the UK could play in leading by example but recognised that in order for the UN High-Level Meeting target of finding and treating 40 million people by 2022 to be reached, much more funding needed to be mobilised and called for other countries to step up their efforts.