Amsterdam, The Netherlands (July 23, 2018) — In preparation for the first ever United Nation’s High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on tuberculosis (TB), to be held September 26, in New York, advocates are calling on the HIV/AIDS community to use the 22nd International AIDS Conference to draw attention to the deadly link between TB and HIV. The conference, which runs from July 23 to 27, is the last major gathering of both the TB and HIV advocacy communities before the highly anticipated UNHLM on TB. Scores of delegates from across the world are here for the conference.
“The TB and HIV epidemics fuel each other, but the global response has missed opportunities to use that linkage as a catalyst for faster progress against the ‘deadly duo’,” says Mandy Slutsker, the ACTION Secretariat’s policy and advocacy manager and co-chair of the UNHLM on TB Affected Communities and Civil Society Advisory Panel. “AIDS 2018 is a perfect opportunity for advocates to influence the outcomes of the UNHLM to benefit those suffering from TB-HIV.”
The high-level meeting is being hailed as a milestone in TB advocacy and an opportunity for political leadership on TB and the connected response to HIV/AIDS. Advocates want heads of state to attend the meeting and commit to diagnosing and treating 40 million people with TB, including people with TB-HIV, by 2022. Additionally, they want countries to ensure a TB response that is equitable, rights-based, and people-centered; accelerate the developing of essential new tools; pledge to increase investments to end the diseases to US$13 billion per year by 2022; and commit to decisive, independent, and accountable global leadership, including regular UN reporting and review.
“Lack of resources, including poor investment in research and development for better tools for diagnosis and treatment, remain major barriers to care for people with TB-HIV,” explains Allan Ragi, executive director of KANCO and chair of the ACTION Leadership Group. “Advocates must encourage their head of state to attend the UNHLM on TB and ask them to increase resources to address TB and HIV.”
Rosemary Mburu, executive director of WACI Health, says the UNHLM on TB is particularly important as a catalyst for mobilizing resources considering increasing donor withdrawal of funding for TB and HIV programs. “Increased domestic resources is critical to ensuring we achieve the financing needed to end TB-HIV, particularly in countries where multilateral agencies are currently winding down funding for health programs,” she says.
“There has to be a country-driven process and strong political will. The most successful transitions from donor funding have been driven by country ownership and proactive national government leadership. Without this, it will be difficult to achieve the goals of ending TB-HIV,” adds Mburu.
Tuberculosis remains the leading killer of people infected with HIV, responsible for 40 percent of AIDS-related deaths; an estimated 374,000 people living with HIV die from TB each year. The UNHLM will build off previous successful meetings on HIV, such as the 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS and the 2016 High-Level Meeting on ending AIDS, both of which sought to accelerate the pace on ending the epidemic.
ACTION is a partnership of 13 locally rooted organizations around the world that advocate together to build political will and increase investments for global health. Our partners: Æquitas (India), CITAMplus (Zambia), Global Health Advocates France, Global Health Advocates India, Health Promotion Tanzania, KANCO (Kenya), Princess of Africa Foundation (South Africa), RESULTS International Australia, RESULTS Canada, RESULTS Educational Fund (U.S.), RESULTS Japan, RESULTS UK, and WACI Health (Kenya and South Africa). For more information, please visit: www.action.org