Africa Japan Forum (AJF), a Japanese NGO working on Africa and coordinating Japanese civil society movement on global health, co-hosted the event titled "Human-Centered Approach to Tuberculosis for Healthier Cities and Human Settlement" with Stop TB Partnership and Treatment Action Group (TAG), in New York, in the afternoon of July 11. It was held as a side event of "High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development" (HLPF), a UN conference to follow up and review the progress of its "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs).
Nowadays, Tuberculosis (TB) is the largest killer infectious disease which deprives lives of more than 1.7 million people in the world annually. With SDGs, the UN has set its target to "end TB by 2030" as a major global public health threat. UN will hold its high level meeting on TB (UNHLMTB) on September 26 to make a global agreement on how to fight and beat TB to end it by 2030. Japan is a co-chair of the high level meeting. Our aim to host the event is (1) to promote dialogue between global civil society working on TB and the government of Japan as the co-chair, (2) focusing on TB issues with "Goal 11" (Sustainable Cities and Human Settlement) of SDGs to overcome the problem of TB in cities and specific human settlement, including TB in densely populated poor districts of mega cities, and communities heavily affected with TB, such as migrants, refugees, mining workers, and other key populations like people living with HIV/AIDS.
His Excellency Mr. Koro Bessho, Ambassador of Japan to the UN, who is also the co-chair of the UN High Level Meeting on TB, made his opening remarks. After the remarks he actively responded in the Q&A session with civil soceity activists. After the session, Ms. Paula Fujiwara, the Science Director of International Union against TB and Lung Diseases (the Union), made a key note speech. She is an expert on TB and urban settings, who was seconded by CDC (Center for Diseases Control) to the New York City's Bureau of TB Control and successfully overcame the TB crisis in the city in 90's. Throughout the speech she emphasized the importance of "Human-Centered Approach to TB" with collected data.
After that, Dr. Tamar Tchelidze, Councilor of the Permanent Mission of Georgia, made a comment on the situation of TB in Georgia, which is a heavy-burdened country of MDR-TB. She made a deep explanation on Georgia's policy to control TB with detailed data.
From civil society, first, Mr. Leo Palumbo from Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) made a speech. He emphasized the importance of access to TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment and MSF's advocacy to remove the systemic barriers that prevents people's access to health, including excessively strong IP protection rules and high prices of new drugs, diagnosis and prevention technologies that were linked with the cost of R&D. After Leo's speech, Mr. Mike Frick, HIV/TB Senior Project Officer, made another speech on civil society proposal to a global independent accountability mechanism to review the progress of global fight against TB, as well as how to protect the human rights of the TB patients and people affected by TB.
In the Q&A Session, many participants, especially in youth generation, raised many questions to the panelists. Among them, Dr. Joseph Burzynski, who is in charge of TB Control Bureau of New York City, raised a question on TB in urban settings.
Finally, the event was closed by the video message of Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of Stop TB Partnership, as the closing remarks. she emphasized the importance of the link between TB and Goal 11 and call the participants to push the participation of their heads of states to the UN HLM in tuberculosis.
In the UN High Level Meeting on TB on September 26th, the Political Declaration will be approved in consensus as the outcome. Currently, the negotiation on the Declaration have been continued. We would like to continue our work together with global civil society to end TB as one of the major global health threats, by the year 2030.