Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, delivered by David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to the twenty-eighth Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board, in New York today:
I am pleased to send greetings to the Executive Board of the Stop TB Partnership. In the first 15 years of this century, tuberculosis (TB) prevention, diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives, and the TB mortality rate fell by nearly half compared to 1990. The Millennium Development Goal target of reversing TB incidence was achieved well in advance of the deadline.
As part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the World Health Organization (WHO) End TB Strategy, all countries have committed to ending the TB epidemic. The United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, adopted in June, is also aligned with this objective. However, the burden of suffering and death due to this devastating infectious disease remains immense. Some 9.6 million men, women and children fell ill with TB in 2014, and 1.5 million died.
The 2030 Agenda is based on the principle of leaving no one behind. People who are overlooked by our health systems must be prioritized, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups and the communities most heavily affected by diseases. An estimated 3.6 million people with TB are currently neglected. To reach them, TB programmes must be aggressively scaled up, ensuring access and coverage for all.
Antimicrobial resistance, which includes multidrug-resistant TB, poses a major health risk worldwide. Multidrug resistant TB has been undermining progress over the past two decades. Unless this is confronted head-on, we risk losing gains already made and jeopardizing our overall objectives. Multi-drug resistant TB needs to be high on the global antimicrobial resistance agenda as we discuss these issues at the upcoming United Nations high-level meeting.
With unprecedented refugee movements worldwide, TB poses a particular threat. Poor and vulnerable populations; refugees and internally displaced persons are at greater risk of developing TB and less likely to have access to appropriate care. These groups must have access to quality treatment and be protected from stigma and discrimination.
To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, new tools and new ways of delivering them are critical. That means rapid point-of-care tests, safer, easier and shorter treatment for infection and disease, and effective new vaccines. All this will require greater financing and resources. The Global Fund has been a critical player in raising resources and investing in TB programmes. It is imperative to strengthen the replenishment process to guarantee the uninterrupted provision of TB interventions to people in need.
The World Health Organization has been working extensively to address the drivers of the TB epidemic and the social determinants of ill health. I commend WHO on their efforts to support countries to scale up the national TB response. I also commend the Stop TB Partnership, which has overseen remarkable progress. I count on your continued efforts to make the world understand and respond to this killer disease so we can prevent the needless suffering it causes. I wish you a successful meeting.