I am delighted to be with you this morning.
The Secretary-General regrets that he cannot attend today’s meeting, but I am pleased to represent him.
He has asked me to deliver remarks on his behalf.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the General Assembly for convening this first-ever high-level meeting on how we are going to end tuberculosis.
Our task is urgent.
Tuberculosis is the world’s greatest infectious killer, effecting millions around the world.
This vicious epidemic touches every continent and every country.
In 2017 alone, there were some 10 million new infections.
At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals is the promise to leave no one behind.
Today, the voices of affected communities ring clear in the halls of the United Nations.
Your voices must be the beating heart of our work, urging to intensify our efforts and broaden our partnerships.
TB does not exist in a vacuum.
Poverty, inequality, urbanization, migration and conflict all fuel TB.
TB helps fuel other epidemics, poverty and distress.
It exists in a vicious cycle that will require an all-systems approach that accounts for the social drivers that perpetuate its spread.
To end the epidemic and stop the global public health crisis of drug-resistant TB, we need better health and social welfare systems.
With roughly a half million drug-resistant cases of TB each year, we need scientific advances to find better tools to fight TB and overcome the increasing threat of Anti-Microbial Resistance.
Throughout today’s discussions, I encourage you to consider carefully the links between TB and the broader health agenda.
If we are to achieve our ambition, our work can no longer be guided by disease-specific silos.
The fight against TB also remains drastically under-funded, with at least 13 billion dollars needed annually by 2022.
We need greater investments in health more broadly and the systems required to end TB.
Indeed, tuberculosis provides a critical opportunity for us to implement system-wide approaches that build a health infrastructure capable of not only preventing, diagnosing and treating TB, but of promoting and protecting the broader health and well-being of entire communities.
Our response to TB can expand access to medicines and drive progress toward Universal Health Coverage for all.
The World Health Organization Global Strategy to End TB by 2030 provides a framework for action and, under it, we have seen progress. But that progress is uneven, slow and fragile.
Two-thirds of all new TB cases occur in just eight countries.
We still have much work to do to deliver on our promise to truly leave no one behind.
This will require a new way of working, beyond single streams of work, beyond single disease-specific silos and single goals, to drive progress for people, particularly in the poorest and most marginalized communities.
Your discussions today and your work in follow-up to this meeting embody this multisectoral approach that is so important.
I congratulate the members of the General Assembly on the Political Declaration to be adopted this morning.
It is highly ambitious, but progress is possible if we base our efforts on the best data and science, informed decisions, empowered communities, and strategic and well-financed action.
We will continue to look to Dr Tedros and the World Health Organization to lead in our cross-UN efforts in support of governments, working together with civil society and all partners to drive the acceleration needed.
Through the World Health Assembly, we have the frameworks necessary to monitor progress against our TB targets, which I hope can feed into broader discussions here at the UN on progress against health more broadly in years to come.
We will also count on members of civil society to continue to spur dialogue and action to help take us forward in a bold new way.
Please remain engaged with the United Nations, so our efforts can be most effective.
We will continue to support you in preparing for the high-level meeting a year from now on universal health coverage.
We know this issue is critical for ending epidemics, for battling non-communicable diseases and enabling well-being.
I wish you all success today in your discussions.
I look forward to hearing more about the specific commitments made by national leaders.
Let us, together, commit to end TB once-and-for-all.