LSHTM TB Centre Report on June 4 Interactive Civil Society Hearing for the UNGA on TB

2018 is a landmark year for TB, with the first ever United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) High-Level Meeting (HLM) on the fight against tuberculosis planned for the 26th September in New York. The HLM aims to deliver an ambitious political declaration on TB endorsed by Heads of State, that will strengthen action and investments to end TB. In preparation for the upcoming meeting, Anna Vassall, Rebecca Harris and Titus Divala from the TB centre and four other colleagues from the UK academic network ‘UK Academics and Professionals to End TB’ (UKAPTB, attended an “interactive civil society” preparatory meeting on 4 June 2018 at UN headquarters in New York, organised by the President of the General Assembly, with the support of the World Health Organization and the Stop TB Partnership. The goal of this hearing was to provide a forum for input to member states from key stakeholders including TB academics, civil society, parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, and affected communities.

Around 250 stakeholder representatives, including seven from the UK Academics & Professionals to End TB, attended the all-day hearing. Four of the seven UKAPTB attendees were able to attend thanks to funding received from Research Councils UK. The representatives raised issues that they considered key in the fight against TB and deserved to be included on the UNGA HLM agenda and final resolution. In particular, LSHTM/UKAPTB representatives stressed the important role of applied health research as a means towards achieving the end of the TB epidemic. This has since been captured in the UNGA President’s report, feeding into the negotiations for the draft declaration. The interactive hearing was video-recorded in full and the recording is publicly available.

UKAPTB members also attended a two-hour break-out session on “The Vital Role of Research for TB Elimination”, a key briefing for country Missions to the UN on the importance of research for achieving global TB goals.  Irene Ayakaka, a member of the UKAPTB delegation, delivered a talk during this well-attended session on the importance of applied health research for ending TB.
Following the June 4 hearing, member countries have started negotiations that will lead to a draft declaration for heads of state’s endorsement on 26 September 2018. Progress is being made, but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure that 1) this final document highlights the importance of academic research for ending TB, and 2) getting heads of state to attend the meeting in person along with as many elected and civil society representation and affected communities as possible. The LSHTM TB Centre and UKAPTB will now channel all efforts towards meeting these two goals.