Today, parliamentarians and political leaders spanning 5 continents signed the Barcelona Declaration on Tuberculosis (TB), committing themselves to work for sustained action and significant investment in the fight against TB. The declaration was the result of the inaugural Global TB Summit, which was held in conjunction with the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona this week.
“As elected representatives we have reached across geographic and political divides to plan how we can use our leadership and influence to demand more effective action to beat the TB epidemic", said Nick Herbert MP, co-chairman of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on TB (APPG), which co-organised the Summit with the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union.)
The first-ever Global TB Summit brought together elected representatives from around the world to galvanise the political will needed to tackle TB, and to create a clear vision for the role of parliamentarians in combating the epidemic. In addition to the Declaration, the Summit also resulted in the creation of a Global TB Caucus—a globe-spanning network of parliamentarians that will drive these efforts.
“By signing the Declaration we are committing to work together in a global effort to prioritise TB on political agendas in every country which has a role in combating this disease,” said Herbert. “As new threats like Ebola rightly command concern and attention, we need to remind political leaders that TB still accounts for 1.5 million lives every year, which means that every day it kills as many people as Ebola has in total. The world cannot afford to make choices between tackling these terrible diseases -- it must fight on every front to beat these epidemics."
The Declaration also called for a new model of model of research and development for TB that will sustain and enhance the existing pipeline to introduce desperately needed new TB drugs, diagnostics and vaccines and ensure that new treatments are available, accessible, appropriate and affordable for all who need them.
“Political leadership is essential to fighting TB because those who are affected are predominantly poor, or living on the margins of society,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union. “This means there is not a natural market to drive the delivery of health services and the R&D needed to eliminate the disease. Yet new data released by the WHO last week showed that TB is responsible for nearly as many deaths each year as HIV/AIDS.”
“Fighting TB includes tackling other related challenges as well -- increasing drug resistance, co-infection with HIV, TB cases driven by tobacco use and a looming co-epidemic of TB and diabetes that could potentially affect millions as diabetes skyrockets around the world,” said Castro.
“TB represents a threat to both the lives and livelihoods of people in every country in the world. No country can fight TB alone,” said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the World Health Organization Global TB Programme. “This new Global TB Caucus is an essential step to foment a truly robust and sustainable global response to this global disease.”
The Declaration has been signed by representatives from Brazil, Canada, France, Kenya, India, South Africa, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Union has agreed to serve as the secretariat for the Global TB Caucus, and plans are already being made for a second Global TB Summit to be held in Cape Town, South Africa. This event will also be held in conjunction with the Union World Conference on Lung Health, which will take place next year on 2-6 December 2015.
A full text of the Declaration can be found here.