The United Nations (UN) has said that no fewer than 1.6 million people are killed annually by tuberculosis, noting the disease would lead to loss of $1 trillion in economic terms by the year 2050.
UN Secretary-General, Secretary-General António Guterres, said at an interactive dialogue with civil society groups that social drivers of the disease must be confronted in the fight against tuberculosis.
In this vein, Guterres, stated thatpoverty and inequality have to be addressed with a view to reversing the trend.
According to him “universal health care provides an ideal umbrella to build cohesion across the global health landscape, on financing, programming and accountability.
“Let us use these meetings as an opportunity to inform a new way of thinking and working; lifting TB beyond its traditional silo.”
Besides, he called for greater efforts to provide universal health coverage and combat the growing threat of anti-microbial resistance strain of TB.
The UN scribe lamented that ‘‘multi-drug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is rendering two most powerful drugs used to fight TB, Isoniazid and Rifampicin ineffective.
For his part, Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly, who convened the meeting, stressed that knowledge of the disease and factors that complicate treatment have grown, but the world “cannot stop at just knowing.”
“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,” he said.
The civil society dialogue is part of the preparatory process for a high-level meeting, to be held in September, on tuberculosis.
It comes a day before UN Member States start negotiations on the outcome document for the high-level meeting.
Lajčák said the meeting would exchange experiences and learn lessons to contribute to a joint vision of how to ‘End Tuberculosis by 2030’.