In New York City, on the 22nd of September, the global community united for a crucial event, the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (UN HLM on TB). With a theme that emphasizsed science, finance, innovation, and equitable access to prevention, testing, treatment, and care, this meeting held the promise of advancing the fight against one of humanity's oldest and deadliest diseases. We were very excited to attend this event.
TB Innovation Summit 3.0: A Game-Changer In advance of the UN HLM, the Stop TB Partnership, a United Nations organisation, held the TB Innovation Summit (TBIS) 3.0. The Stop TB Partnership serves as a unifying force, aligning over 1600 partner organisations to combat this airborne pandemic through global advocacy. TBIS 3.0 offered a fresh perspective, moving beyond the conventional one-dimensional global health event. This fascinating summit included keynote addresses, debates and pitch sessions. We were able to hear diverse insights and ideas about tackling TB from various angles.
In fact, it was this diverse range of delegates in attendance that most impressed us. From local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to funding agencies, pharmaceutical companies, private enterprises,funding and government organisations, representatives from all corners of the globe and sectors gathered. We genuinely believe that to truly eradicate TB all key stakeholders must come together, each contributing their unique expertise and resources.
Drawing Parallels with COVID-19 At the event, the Stop TB Partnership hosted one of the most thought-provoking debates between NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, and other organisations. It concerned the discrepancy between the COVID-19 pandemic response versus the global response to TB. During the COVID-19 crisis, the world witnessed remarkable interventions, including rapid vaccine development and the expansion of telehealth services to reach remote areas. However, the question arises: why hasn't this approach been more widely applied to tuberculosis, a disease that claims 1.6 million lives annually and primarily affects lower-income countries? There is a pressing need for a "COVID-19 mindset" to genuinely combat TB, given that it has been a global health challenge for over a century.
Financial Commitments for a TB-Free Future Despite the challenges, there was a huge ray of hope offered at the UN HLM on TB. Member states made a resounding commitment to increase annual global TB funding levels. The goal is to increase funding from the current $5.4 billion to $22 billion annually by 2027, rising further to $35 billion by 2030. This substantial financial commitment demonstrates the global community's dedication to mobilise resources through both domestic and international mechanisms and innovative financing strategies, accompanied by well-defined action plans.
A Unified Effort Against TB
As we move forward, it is evident that only through united efforts from local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to funding agencies, pharmaceutical companies, private enterprises, funders and government organisations, we can put an end to the global tuberculosis epidemic and ensure equitable access to prevention, testing, treatment, and care for all.