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Message from the Executive Director

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Moving Together to Build a Healthier World

José Luis Castro, 16 September 2019

On 23 September, The Union is taking part in the United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Universal Health Coverage under the banner of ‘Moving Together to Build a Healthier World’.

At last year’s UN HLM on Tuberculosis (TB), member states endorsed a political declaration on ending TB. This committed member states to specific targets for expanding diagnosis, treatment and prevention, including new commitments for reaching children who have been widely neglected in the TB response.

With 36 percent of people with TB going undiagnosed, and 90 percent of the children who died from TB last year left untreated, there is no doubt that the Universal Health Coverage agenda is fully aligned with the HLM commitments to end the global TB epidemic by 2030.

Effective and accessible health systems, with people-centred care offered through a primary healthcare model, are vital to serve families and communities affected by TB. At the same time, we must safeguard the knowledge and experience of specialised TB programmes.

Over the past week, we consulted our members to prepare a joint statement which we have submitted to the organisers in advance of the UN HLM. I am delighted that the statement has received support from more than 150 members – organisations and individuals – and the list of signatories has also been included in our submission.

We are pleased to share this statement more widely and I look forward to working with policy-makers and health leaders, to representing our members and advocating for The Union’s position at the UN High-Level Meeting.

Statement submitted to the UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, signed by The Union and 154 members.

The goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goes hand-in-hand with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end the global TB epidemic by 2030.

At last year’s UN High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis, member states pledged, by 2022, to: treat 40 million people including 3.5 million children; provide TB prevention to 30 million people, including four million children aged under five; provide at least US$13 billion for TB care and US$2 billion for research and development; and support comprehensive approaches based on human rights.

The UN Political Declaration on UHC reaffirms these commitments. We support member states’ commitments to “advancing comprehensive approaches and integrated service delivery and ensuring that no one is left behind.” We affirm the call to deliver comprehensive TB care, which includes its comorbidities with HIV, diabetes and tobacco use, and for TB survivors with long term health problems. This would best be achieved using integrated approaches, particularly through primary health care.

At the same time, we emphasise the need to preserve the specialised functions and funding required for TB surveillance, monitoring, training, operational research and other managerial functions implemented through national TB programmes. These are critical for sustaining quality of care and monitoring progress toward reaching the SDGs.