At the Global Ministerial Conference in Moscow political leaders take first steps toward UN HLM on TB

The first World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era saw ministers from around the world reaffirm their commitment to end the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic by 2030. 

A Ministerial Declaration (PDF 470 KB) was signed containing commitments by countries to accelerate action to end TB and reach the milestones on the road towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This will inform the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on TB in 2018.

The Union urged those attending to take a broad approach at the highest level to tackle TB and to urgently support TB research and development (R&D) if we are to beat the epidemic.

José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union, said: “We need presidents and prime ministers mobilising resources to beat this epidemic. Politically, we need to elevate this issue to the head of state level.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, said:

“Political attention is very vital. But it is not enough. Patients are crying out for new treatment options. We must heed their cry. We must invest now in research and development.”

In the conference’s opening plenary session, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa, championed the call for urgent TB R&D, and named The Life Prize as a solution to this challenge. He said:

“We cannot continue to miss millions of TB infected persons who are left to die in silence with no dignity. We need to say no more TB infections and no more TB deaths in our lifetimes.

“We must come up with innovative research and development models such as The Life Prize formerly known as ‘the  3P’ project, which delinks the cost of R&D from the final cost of medicines.”

Union board members Ingrid Schoeman, an MDR-TB survivor and part of TB Proof; and Blessi Kumar, from the WHO Civil Society Task Force on TB and part of the Global Coalition of TB Activists; both gave the perspective of TB survivors and civil society when they spoke at the second plenary session.

Blessi Kumar said: “Things are beginning to change - we see bold policies and guidelines. We need to fight with courage…Investing in communities and TB response is important.”

Paul Jensen, Director of Policy and Strategy, continued The Union’s call for increased and innovative approaches to TB R&D when speaking at a side event organised by The Union, MSF and the Stop TB Partnership on Innovative interventions and strategies to improve treatment outcomes for people with drug-resistance TB.

“We don't just need new TB treatments, we need entirely new regimens that work for all forms for TB, including Drug-Resistant TB. And we need to de-link the cost of those regimens from the cost of R&D so that treatment is affordable for all patients who need it.

"We must change the way in which we fund R&D for TB and The Life Prize does that.” He said.

It is now hoped that the momentum gained, and the greater political commitments made and enshrined in the declaration officially adopted at the conference, will go on to inform the first UN HLM on TB.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, said: “We will end TB. The Moscow declaration is a milestone in the history of TB. It is a testament to the power of partnerships.

“For the first time, we have the one key ingredient that is essential for success: political commitment to end TB.”