In 2018, at the first-ever United Nations High Level Meeting on TB, world leaders agreed upon a political declaration, United to end tuberculosis: an urgent response to a global epidemic, pledging to increase their efforts to fight the disease.
The heads of Government and State agreed on global targets. The 2022 deadline for achievement of these targets is fast approaching, but the UN Secretary-General’s 2020 report found that progress is too little and too slow.
The report also shows that there is a huge divide between commitments that have been made and the realities experienced on the ground.
Parallel to the UN chief report, TB-affected communities and civil society produced A Deadly Divide: TB Commitments vs TB Realities.
The report and its accompanying Call to Action call on UN member States to update, fund, and operationalise the national TB responses to reflect the priorities of those most affected by the disease.
Governments should guarantee the meaningful engagement of TB-affected communities and civil society at every step in the process.
TB remains a major obstacle to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals of health, development, and prosperity for all in Malawi.
There is a need for additional funding for research on TB as well as new tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat TB are urgently required.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 has slowed progress and reversed our gains by as much as eight years, according to a modeling study, while also disproportionately impacting those in society who are already most vulnerable and creating additional barriers to access.
There is an opportunity to leverage Covid-19 infrastructure and investments to improve the TB response; integrate TB and Covid-19 testing and tracing; and strengthen efforts to overcome the barriers that people continue to face when accessing TB services.
Another recent report by Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières, Step Up for TB 2020, found that 37 countries with a high burden of TB are using outdated policies and practice for TB prevention, treatment, and care.
Time is passing quickly and we are at risk of running out the clock, as documented in recent reports by the UN Secretary-General, the World Health Organisation, and TB communities and civil society.
That is why our theme for World TB Day 2021 is “The Clock is Ticking”, highlighting the urgency for the international community to redouble its efforts to fulfil their commitments.
This World TB Day, we ask you to engage communities in planning and implementing strong, integrated TB and Covid-19 mitigation and response measures.
Review, update, and implement your TB policies by the end of 2022 to align with the latest World Health Organisation and internationally recognised guidelines and participate in the next Step Up for TB survey on TB policies
Increase financing for TB prevention and care, innovations in care delivery, and research and development, including for new TB vaccines to prevent the development of TB disease;
Implement the UN Political Declaration on TB by December 2022, outlining your progress and next steps, and expressing support for the UN Secretary-General’s proposal to hold a follow-up High-Level Meeting on TB in 2023
With next year’s deadline fast approaching, urgent action and investment are required to get back on track and accelerate our collective efforts to fulfil the 2022 UN targets on TB.