Thirty Parliamentarians from across Africa have called on Heads of State to attend the forthcoming United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (UNHLM) and make meaningful commitments in a bid to end tuberculosis (TB) on the continent, and ultimately around the world.
Amid concerns about the current status of intergovernmental talks on TB in New York, the ground-breaking Nairobi Declaration was signed during July’s “Future-proof: Africa TB Summit 2023” convened by the Global TB Caucus. The Summits’ theme, “Future-proof”, is a popular term which means “unlikely to fail”, adopted by The Caucus with the spirit of ending TB once and for all.
The Declaration, which has been signed by Parliamentarians from 20 countries, highlights that “2023 UN High Level Meeting negotiations are a long way from where they need to be” risking “a huge missed opportunity” to get the fight against TB back on track.
It calls for action to ‘accelerate research and development, roll-out and access to new TB vaccines, diagnostics, treatment and care, and other essential new tools, including digital health technologies, through health systems strengthening and accountability measures,’ and commits signatories to campaign for improvements in domestic financing, policy and legislation in their respective national Parliaments.
Speaking after the signing, Hon. Stephen Mule, Member of Parliament of Matungulu, Head of the National TB Caucus of Kenya and Regional Co-Chair of Anglophone Africa, confirmed that the declaration will help African countries easily track the targets they have set in eradicating TB.
He stated: “Globally, TB is the leading infectious cause of death and Africa carries about a quarter of the total global TB burden. As parliamentarians from Africa, we are glad that we have signed this declaration today and collectively, we shall be seeking to drive the political will to end TB in our respective countries. This Regional Joint declaration will further create a framework that stakeholders in this continent can adopt and utilise as we work collectively to end TB.”
Data from the World Health Organisation indicates that more than 74 million lives have been saved from TB globally since 2000.
However, Africa remains a high-burden continent for TB, with TB/HIV and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) among the leading causes of deaths in the continent. Strong political will is necessary to safeguard and secure stronger policies and strategic planning.
The Global TB Caucus – an international network of 2,500 political representatives dedicated to ending TB – convened the 2023 Africa TB Summit to galvanise political will, building on regional summits held in Asia-Pacific (APC) and Eastern Europe & Central Asia (EECA) earlier this year.
The regional summits build towards the September’s UNHLM on TB by strengthening national and regional partnerships and political commitment on health policies. Parliamentarians from across the Africa, APC and EECA regions will join their colleagues from the Americas and Western Europe in New York in September as part of The Caucus’ global delegation to the UNHLM.