WHO Director-General and Civil Society Task Force on TB release joint statement on key priorities in the lead up to 2nd UN High-Level Meeting on TB

The joint statement calls on Member States, partners, international agencies, and communities to join forces to collectively drive a response that matches the scale of the TB epidemic.

1 May 2023 | Geneva: The WHO Civil Society Task Force on TB (CSTF) and WHO’s Director-General have released a joint statement highlighting key priorities for Member States and other stakeholders to inform preparations for the UN Multistakeholder hearing and second United Nations General Assembly high level meeting (UNHLM) on TB.

The joint statement calls on Member States, partners, international agencies, and communities to join forces to collectively drive a response that matches the scale of the TB epidemic, and emphasizes the need for the following actions:

  1. Mobilize sufficient and sustainable financing for ending TB.
  2. Ensure accelerated people-centered actions, with bold strategies and based on the latest approaches ensuring universal access to TB prevention and care (drawing on lessons from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic).
  3. Strengthen the engagement of civil society, TB-affected communities, and TB survivors as equal partners in all aspects of the national TB response with strong primary health care.
  4. Encourage all sectors and stakeholders to work together and establish and maintain a high-level multisectoral accountability mechanism in all high TB burden countries. This is aligned with WHO’s multisectoral accountability framework.
  5. Accelerate the development of safe and effective TB vaccines and facilitate their equitable global access, once available. 

The WHO Director-General and CSTF encouraged participation of Member States at the highest possible level of Heads of State, with representation of communities in each delegation for the second UNHLM on TB.

The joint statement was issued following a meeting of WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the CSTF held on 17 April 2023. As part of the meeting, the CSTF convened a virtual Townhall, opened by the Director-General, to solicit views of the broader community and civil society on the 2nd UNHLM in addition to the regionally and nationally convened events. About 200 participants from all over the world participated in this town hall.

WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted the need to listen to the communities and civil society as the ultimate experts in their own needs. This was noted as the core principle of the new WHO guidance for community engagement to end TB, that is fully aligned with the Primary Health Care Framework, and which will soon be published.

During the meeting, the CSTF briefed the Director-General on the social listening and community feedback exercises organized by WHO in collaboration with the CSTF to solicit views of the broader community and civil society at the grassroot level on their needs and priorities in local and national efforts to end TB. More than 500 stakeholders participated in these exercises, including representatives of TB-affected communities, civil society organizations, WHO headquarters and regional and country offices, Ministries of Health and their national TB programmes, and technical and financial partners. Key demands expressed by the stakeholders include the need for sustainable financing for a strong community response to TB; ensuring systematic engagement of TB-affected communities in decision making; scaling up community-led feedback and monitoring as an integral part of the national TB response and people-centred care free of stigma; and ensuring equitable access to quality services for TB, comorbidities and social determinants including for the vulnerable and marginalized. These exercises formed the basis of the joint statement and will inform CSTF contributions during the UN interactive multistakeholder hearing that will be held on 8 May 2023, and beyond.

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Programme emphasized the importance of community and civil society engagement at the meeting and townhall. She said, “The power of communities and civil society can galvanize urgent action across sectors to address the main drivers of the epidemic and fast-track the TB response towards ending one of the world’s top infectious killers. This is also prioritized as a major strategic approach in the DG Flagship Initiative to #EndTB, for the period 2023-2027”.

During the townhall, the CSTF shared outcomes from the social listening and community feedback exercises. This is seen as a game changer in ensuring the TB stakeholders focus on the right topics, help tackle misinformation, highlight communities’ capacities and suggestions, and ensure a people-centered, trust-based response.

Source: World Health Organization

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By World Health Organization, WHO Civil Society Task Force on TB

Published: May 1, 2023, 10:11 p.m.

Last updated: May 3, 2023, 9:21 p.m.

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