European Members of Parliament convene to accelerate political progress against tuberculosis

European Members of Parliament convene to accelerate political progress against tuberculosis

Parliamentarians from 12 European and Central Asian countries convened in Bratislava from 24-26 June for the European TB Summit, issuing a united call for governments to put tuberculosis (TB) back on the political agenda.

This inaugural meeting of the Eurasian Parliamentarian Group on TB brought together 15 Members of Parliament (MPs) from 12 countries to discuss one of the most pressing health threats to the European Region: TB. Despite widespread belief that TB is no longer a threat in Europe, the region has the highest rate of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the world, comprising 25% of all MDR-TB cases globally. That fact, coupled with the rising rate of HIV in Europe and diminishing political and financial support, puts the region at greater risk of suffering a serious – and preventable – resurgence of TB.

Representatives from The Union, the Stop TB Partnership and civil society joined together to drive home these points, and underline the urgency of the situation to the MPs in attendance.

Co-chaired by MPs Dr Stephan Albani, Germany and Dr George Khechinashvili, Georgia, the summit engaged the MPs in open discussion about the reality of TB in Europe. MPs visited a homeless shelter, which highlighted issues of TB infection and the difficulties of infection control amongst vulnerable populations, and had the opportunity to speak to TB clinicians in a lung disease clinic.

The event culminated in the signing of a European Call to Action, which urged Slovakia to use its Presidency of the EU Council to prioritise TB and facilitate discussion on TB and MDR-TB throughout the EU. All 15 MPs pledged their support to return to their countries, speak to their colleagues about TB and push for increased government action.

The Summit was held immediately after The Union Europe Region Conference, which was attended by over 600 delegates, including government representatives, healthcare professionals, medical experts, TB survivors and organisations.

The Union has supported the Global TB Caucus since its inception in Barcelona at the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health.