This week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB marked World TB Day at a reception in Parliament. With this year’s World TB Day theme being “It’s Time”, it is fitting that the event took place only a few metres away from Big Ben, generously hosted by the House of Commons Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, in his state rooms.
After being welcomed by APPG Co-Chair Virendra Sharma MP, International Development Minister, The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, addressed the audience. Minister Burt reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the fight against TB, saying “this matters to us, we care about it and we are working with others to make things happen”.
Focusing on research, he highlighted how the GeneXpert diagnostic test developed by the Product Development Partnership FIND was a key example of UK Aid also working in the national interest, with the test now being used by the NHS.
He went on to emphasise the importance of the forthcoming Global Fund replenishment, highlighting the significant impact of the Fund in tackling TB globally. With the Department for International Development currently reviewing the investment case for the sixth replenishment, Minister Burt reaffirmed the UK Government’s commitment to the Global Fund and multilateral institutions more broadly.
The Group was joined by Dr Emily Wise, a British doctor who treated patients with MDR-TB while volunteering with MSF in Uzbekistan. Her harrowing account of the challenges faced by people affected by drug-resistant TB were a harsh reminder of the human suffering at the heart of the global TB crisis.
Thanking guests from across parliament, the academic community, healthcare and civil society for their efforts in tackling the disease, Nick Herbert MP emphasised that an end to TB was an achievable goal but required political will, resource and organisation. He called on the UK Government to step up its efforts and to continue demonstrating the kind of leadership that Global Britain stood for. Echoing this year’s World TB Day theme, he closed the event with a simple call to action: “together, we can beat this disease. It is time, it is time to end TB”.