On November 14th, 2017, in the midst of the Global Ministerial Meeting on TB in Moscow, we asked GFAN members and networks to jump into action, and jump you did! The TB community was given a unique opportunity to present Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the WHO, with a short statement of top-level asks for the UN High Level Meeting on TB on behalf of civil society with a very short deadline for sign-on.
Spearheaded and written by the Affected Communities and Civil Society Advisory Panel for the HLM, the intentionally short statement outlined what civil society and communities hope to see come out of the HLM. This was boiled down into 4 main asks:
- Global and country level targets to find, test, and provide quality treatment to all people with TB through person-centered care and through the active involvement and engagement of affected communities. These targets must encompass diagnosis and treatment for all forms of TB and co-infections, including latent TB infection, drug-sensitive TB, and drug-resistant TB.
- Global and country level targets on financing for TB innovation to close the annual global research and development funding gap of $1.3 billion. Governments should commit to increasing funding for TB research through domestic mechanisms at the country level and on the international level through the creation of new, collaborative platforms and mechanisms.
- Recognition of community leadership and engagement, human rights, ethics, and equity as key principles towards ending TB. Central to the TB response are the human rights to life, health, scientific progress, non-discrimination, participation, freedom of movement, among others, as articulated in international and regional human rights treaties and domestic constitutions.
- An independent, impartial, politically-relevant accountability framework reporting to the United Nations General Assembly to track the progress of all countries against the epidemic and identify gaps and challenges.
In an immense show of support and solidarity, a total 86 civil society organizations signed on, and the statement with signatures was presented to Dr Tedros on November 17th. Not only was the statement very well-received by Dr Tedros, but he also put into motion new initiatives for engaging with civil society and communities, including opening a new channel for direct communication with civil society actors through a small group of 6 individuals that he convened in Moscow.
As for next steps, there will be ample opportunities in the coming months to further feed into the HLM process, including both at a UN level and within your own regions, to determine priorities, targets, and key asks, and to help ensure that civil society and community voices continue to be at the centre of all HLM discussions. Stay tuned through the GFAN listserv, as well as the TB Civil Society listserv for ongoing updates and opportunities to engage.