Interactive civil society hearing in preparation of the high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis
4 June 2018
– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at the interactive civil society hearing in preparation of the high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The General Assembly decided to hold its first ever high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis on 26 September. In doing so, it also recognised that it is essential to gather the views and ideas of civil society. And that is why we are here today.
This hearing is indeed timely. As you know, tomorrow Member States will begin negotiations for the outcome document of the high-level meeting. The views of all of you actively engaged in the fight against tuberculosis are essential. Today is your time to place them front and centre.
Before going further, I want to acknowledge the support of the World Health Organisation and the Stop TB Partnership. We have partnered to arrange this important event together.
Since assuming office, I have met with many of you. I have felt your energy first hand. And I know how eager and excited you are to begin.
So, I will set the stage with three short points:
The first is that we cannot continue the way we are going. More action is needed – and it’s needed now.
Tuberculosis is treatable and curable. Yet every day it kills more than 4,500 women, children and men. Around half of the cases are undiagnosed. And 1.6 million people die from the disease each year. It is estimated that the disease will cost the global economy about $1 trillion by 2030.
In 2015, world leaders made the bold commitment to end the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030.
But, we are not on track to meet this SDG target. The pace of progress has been too slow. Global action and investment fall far short of what is required to end the epidemic.
Vulnerable and marginalised segments of the population are not receiving adequate care. Newer challenges, such as ‘multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis’, are a threat. Especially when coupled with other concerns: age-old technology, TB-HIV co-infection, and the impact of anti-microbial resistance, for example. And there is the big funding gap, especially in developing countries – some $2.3 billion in 2017.
So, we need to ramp up our efforts. And to do so urgently.
We know we need more research and development for new drugs and treatments; we need more funding; we need universal access to diagnosis and coverage; and we need partnerships and accountability of all stakeholders. But we cannot stop at just knowing.
The High-Level Meeting must be the turning point for world leaders to go beyond pledges. It must be the time for action.
The High-level Meeting on September 26 will be, therefore, crucial. We should not miss this historic opportunity. And that is my second point. It is the time to galvanise global momentum to end tuberculosis. This is our chance to bring much-needed attention to the fight against tuberculosis. And trigger action at all levels.
Heads of State and Government will be here in New York. So too will be business leaders, the UN system, and key stakeholders from around the world.
It will be a moment to bring about change; to focus on the crucial action we need. The Declaration that will be adopted must be more than words on paper. It must move us forward in concrete terms towards our goal to “End Tuberculosis”.
And here I want to recognise the Permanent Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, and Japan. They are co-facilitating the consultations on the outcome document. And I know they are committed to producing a concise but robust, action-oriented document.
As President of the General Assembly, I will do everything I can to make the meeting a success. And convening this hearing today is a major part of that effort.
It is essential to engage stakeholders in the fight against tuberculosis. You are on the frontlines of this battle. You must be part of the solution. We welcome your valuable contributions to help shape the final outcome of the High-Level Meeting.
Today’s hearing is the first opportunity for the General Assembly to hear the views of all stakeholders. We are here to listen to you; to hear of best practices; to exchange experiences and lessons-learned; to contribute to a joint vision of how to End Tuberculosis by 2030.
We will hear from survivors; researchers; practitioners and parliamentarians; activists, academics and advocates; journalists and private sector players. Views from all over the world, vital for a truly global action plan.
In 2015, world leaders made the bold commitment to end the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030. But, we are not on track to meet this SDG target. The pace of progress has been too slow. Global action and investment fall far short of what is required to end the epidemic.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
As I close, I remind us all of the theme of the high-level meeting – “United to End Tuberculosis”.
No one stakeholder alone can get it done. We have to join our efforts, and bring all players on board.
We are gathered here at the United Nations – in the home of multilateralism. We can and should use that approach as our inspiration. Coming together; mixing views from different perspectives; devising joint plans for shared concerns. Determined to act together in the interest of all.
So I encourage you to engage; take the floor; give your ideas and proposals. Use this platform. Send a clear and united message from today’s gathering.
I feel your passion; I know your expertise; I recognise your experience. And so, I am confident, at the end of today, that call will be loud and clear.
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