In the lead-up to World TB Day, TB advocates meet policymakers in Washington

The Union is proud to support the World TB Survivor Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill - an annual event, organised to coincide with World TB Day. It enables survivors of tuberculosis (TB) to meet with Congressional offices in Washington and tell their personal stories of living with – and surviving – the disease.

Speaking at the briefing, Kristen Virdone, a TB Survivor, urged Congress to consider the essential importance of a strong public health infrastructure to address TB, the world’s leading infectious disease killer, despite being curable and treatable. It was a powerful reminder from someone who was speaking – literally – from experience.

Paul Jensen, Director of Policy and Advocacy, The Union, attended the meetings and explains the significance of the event. “Having stronger political support from the United States government is critical to ending TB. A big part of the solution is seeing that Congress fully-funds implementation of the US National Action Plan for Combating Multi-Drug Resistant TB, and increases funding for the research and development of new TB treatment regimens, diagnostics and a vaccine.

“One million children fall sick with TB each year, and 90 percent of them who die from the disease die because they don't receive treatment. We have so far to go to close the treatment gap, and that's why having stronger political support is literally a matter of life and death.”

The TB survivors spent a full day, on 20 March, meeting with policymakers and sharing their stories of struggle and survival. They made specific requests that will make the critical difference in the fight against TB, if they receive government approval:

- Provide $195.7 million for TB programmes implemented by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

- Provide $400 million for international TB programmes implemented by USAID

- Continue supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with a contribution of $1.35 billion

- Include TB in key research programmes supported by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and in the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program

- Pass the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act

The Union provided sponsorship for two TB survivors to travel to Washington so that their personal stories could be heard and they could add their voices to raising crucial awareness and support for government funding of TB programmes.

The congressional briefing was co-chaired by congressional representatives Eliot Lance Engel, Don Young and Gene Green.

 

Rep. Green was awarded a TB Leadership Award in honour of his tireless work in combatting the disease. He said, “Thank you to the TB community for awarding me the TB Leadership Award. I consider my work to help eliminate TB one of my greatest accomplishments in over 25 years in Congress - but the fight must continue.”

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