24 March 2016 – Last fall, we learned a frightening truth: tuberculosis (TB) is now the leading infectious killer in the world, surpassing HIV/AIDS. The alarming data released by the World Health Organization showed that, unlike the dramatic progress made by scaling up the HIV/AIDS response, two out of every five people with TB are still not receiving the care they need – a whopping 3.6 million people. The situation is even worse for drug-resistant TB, where nearly three quarters of cases go undiagnosed or unreported.
But with distressing numbers came exciting solutions. If we seize them, a new set of opportunities could end TB in our generation.
“Last year it became clearer than ever that TB is a bigger threat than we ever knew,” said Hannah Bowen, ACTION Secretariat Director. “But 2016 is a year of opportunity and action. We know what we need to do to thwart the spread of the TB.”
Last November the Stop TB Partnership launched the Global Plan to End TB 2016 – 2020, which provides a roadmap for accelerating impact on the TB epidemic. The Plan outlines what it will take to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on TB and save 10 million lives over the next five years. “For the first time we have a costed plan that provides the basis, along with the technical guidance of the WHO End TB Strategy, for countries to focus on the highest impact interventions,” explained Aaron Oxley, RESULTS UK Director. “The Plan is ambitious, yet achievable, if we increase investment in the fight against TB.”
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria plays a major role in combatting the deadly disease, providing 77 percent of external funding for TB programs. While many middle-income countries fund large portions of the TB response themselves, external funding from donors is critical to supporting low-income countries, scaling up key interventions, and reaching the most vulnerable people. In December, the Global Fund announced its plan to raise $13 billion for its next three-year cycle of funding. Pledging toward that total will culminate this fall, when the Global Fund will host its fifth replenishment conference, providing an opportunity for countries to step up their investments in TB.
Responding to civil society calls for leadership, the European Commission announced plans earlier this month to increase its contribution to the Global Fund by €100 million for 2017-2019. “The pledge is an important step for Europe in combating the epidemics, including multi-drug resistant TB, which is a significant threat in the region,” says Patrick Bertrand, Director of Global Health Advocates France. “It’s critical other donors follow Europe’s lead and increase contributions to the Global Fund.”
Combatting TB requires more than donor funding. Increased political will, improved policies and new domestic investments are need to achieve a world where TB is no longer a public health threat. “All stakeholders, including governments, donors, and civil society have a role to play in fighting the world’s leading infectious killer,” said Mandy Slutsker, ACTION Secretariat Policy & Advocacy Manager. “Together, we can unite to end TB.”
ACTION is a partnership of 12 locally-rooted organizations around the world that advocate together to build political will and increase investments for global health. Our partners: Æquitas (India) l CITAM+ (Zambia) l Global Health Advocates France l Global Health Advocates India l Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium l Princess of Africa Foundation (South Africa) l RESULTS Australia l RESULTS Canada l RESULTS Japan l RESULTS Educational Fund (US) l RESULTS UK l WACI Health
For more information, or to be connected with our global network of health advocates:
Mandy Slutsker, ACTION Secretariat Policy & Advocacy Manager