Ending TB in India is essential to the ultimate End TB strategy – The Union statement on Delhi End TB Summit

The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) fully supports the convening of the Delhi End TB Summit (from 13 March 2018), which affirms the commitment of the region’s politicians and ministers to galvanising a joined-up approach to tackling the global tuberculosis (TB) crisis.

TB is the world’s leading cause of death from an infectious disease, despite being treatable and curable. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2017 confirms that the disease is responsible for 1.7 million deaths annually and, in India, the situation is at crisis point. India topped the list of the seven countries that account for 64 percent of the total 10 million new TB cases worldwide. The WHO report also stated that, out of 490,000 multidrug-resistant-TB (MDR-TB) cases, half of those were in India, China and the Russian Federation combined.

We cannot continue on this path. We urgently need stronger political will from national governments to ensure sustained funding and resources are invested into efforts to end TB. This commitment from India and surrounding countries to address the issue is a crucial step on the road toward the first-ever United Nations’ High Level Meeting (UN HLM) on TB in September this year. We need all leaders in government to take a similar stand against TB.

Dr Paula Fujiwara, The Union’s Scientific Director and Dr Jamhoih (Jamie) Tonsing, Regional Director of The Union South Asia Office are both attending the summit in Delhi this week:

“India has the highest number of TB cases in the world which makes it the frontline of the fight to eliminate the disease,” says Dr Tonsing. “Unless the disease is eliminated in India, global efforts to end the disease by 2030 will stall.  

“Over the past few years, we have seen greater visibility, ambition and momentum to ending TB in India, recognising that India needs to do much more if we are to end TB globally. As well as galvanising political momentum, this Summit should also flag the importance of TB as a social issue, rather than a purely medical one, solved through medical interventions alone. There is increasing recognition of the need to engage with private sector providers and a willingness to invest in improved TB care in the private sector.

“By convening this Summit, the Government is enabling the coming together of all the essential partners, public and private sectors, in joint action to fast-track the end TB strategy.”

Dr Paula Fujiwara is a member of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Group which is providing input to the UN to inform the HLM agenda, political declaration and accountability framework: “The UN HLM on TB on 26 September needs to turn the global tide against TB and set us on course to elimination. We can’t afford to think and act small because the TB community can’t end TB on its own. The TB epidemic is fuelled by too many broader injustices—poverty, inadequate housing, malnutrition, the denial of universal human rights, stigma and discrimination—so we need to enrol a much broader coalition. This is as vital for the Delhi End TB Summit, as for the UN HLM later this year. Both offer crucial opportunities to make the case and accelerate progress.”