The Union presents first in a new series of member webinars to galvanise support for UN HLM on TB

The Union is delivering a series of webinars aimed at harnessing the expertise of its global network of members and adding to the growing momentum for the inaugural United Nations’ High Level Meeting (UN HLM) on Tuberculosis (TB) on 26 September.

The first webinar on 10 April focused on the importance of meaningful civil society input and maximising opportunities to gain vital media attention on the disease.

Paul Jensen, Director of Policy and Strategy, The Union, chaired the session. Commenting on the theme of the UN HLM on TB - United to end tuberculosis, an urgent global response to a global epidemic – he said, “This is a strong theme that gives us a mandate to push for solutions that are going to make the biggest difference in the fight against TB.”

He added that the political declaration from the meeting must be a vital statement for holding leaders accountable and delivering concrete action: “We need to have strong representation from heads of state, strong commitments within the political declaration that is endorsed at that meeting, and we really need a strong and effective accountability framework.”

He confirmed that the UN would also hold its HLM on non-communicable diseases on the following day (27 September) – two days in which health will be a major point on the agenda of the General Assembly, with an over-arching theme of universal health coverage.

Also speaking at the session was Meaghan Derynck, TB Project Manager for the Global Fund Advocates Network, at International Civil Society Support (ICSS). She outlined the importance of ensuring the meaningful participation of civil society and affected communities throughout the HLM process. She stressed that the resulting declaration must take account of the concerns and priorities of civil society groups. ICSS is organising a global consultation that is informing global advocacy in the lead up to the UN HLM and Derynck urged everyone to contribute their expertise and insight.

“It is critical that civil society and people who have been affected by this terrible disease have a voice in the process and are consulted, engaged and given ample opportunity to participate. Involvement should be meaningful and impactful. Too many times in the past, we have seen civil society and affected communities being given tokenistic representation. This time it has to mean something and it must be mutually beneficial.”

Information on the community consultations run by the Global Fund Advocates Network can be found here.

Jove Oliver, Senior Advisor on Communications for The Union, spoke about the role of media and communications in the UN HLM and urged attendees to think “like communications people.” That meant using their own social media accounts to amplify messages from the TB community and also think about how their research could be used as tools to drive media engagement and attention on TB, in this most critical of years:

“Media coverage drives the political agenda. It makes politicians, UN missions and decision-makers focus on TB. It is probably the most effective tool we can use. But we need ‘news’ to get media outlets interested. By that I mean new studies, new papers, new books, new data, new trials, new interventions, and new people. Tell us your stories and we can flag them to the world’s media. Coverage in the media means the UN HLM has to take note.”

Over 100 Union members and collaborators attended the webinar. Members with ideas for news stories and coverage should email: