Remarks by the President of the 78th session of the General Assembly
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We come together today with a purpose; a resolve; a drive: To reinvigorate commitments and accelerate progress towards ending tuberculosis – a millennia-old disease that is one of the world's top infectious killers.
Why, after all the progress we have made – from sending man to the moon, to bringing the world to our fingertips – have we been unable to defeat a preventable and curable disease that kills over 4,400 people a day?
The TB epidemic thrives due to well-known inequities, such as poverty and undernutrition.
And it is further exacerbated by conflicts, climate change and other crises.
The COVID-19 pandemic reversed years of progress in the fight to end TB – placing an even heavier burden on those affected, especially the most vulnerable.
Ending TB has proven to be unexpectedly tough.
The gap in access to services across the care continuum is acute, while stigma and discrimination continue to compound vulnerability and hinder the public health response.
Women, in particular, face severe effects.
It has never been more important to re-imagine the response to TB – and tackle the root causes of the epidemic.
Where do we start?
Innovation is vital in this endeavor.
Social science and health system research are key to improving the effectiveness, impact and acceptability of TB care, along with a strong degree of social ownership.
We also need affordable and more accurate rapid point-of-care diagnostics – along with more efficient and nontoxic treatment regimens, particularly for drug-resistant TB.
But to end TB as soon as possible, we need safe and effective vaccines.
In this context, I welcome WHO's establishment of the TB vaccine accelerator council, which will help us strengthen the search.
Until we find a vaccine, we must apply all the tools at our disposal.
Ensuring Universal Health Coverage, and advancing science and innovation, will require all stakeholders to join forces.
Adequate investment by the public sector is crucial if Governments are to fulfil their obligations on the right to health.
Public-private partnerships, engagement of academia and civil society, and funding from philanthropic sources, are also essential.
In addition, we need transparent, reliable and widely available data to translate evidence into policy.
Equitable access to the benefits of research is also fundamental – with need prioritized above the ability to pay.
With need prioritised above the ability to pay.
Today, as we take stock of our efforts to end TB by 2030, I wish to reflect on what we have accomplished.
Amid unprecedented global crises, over 74 million lives have been saved in the last two decades.
This is thanks to your efforts as Governments, civil society, academia, researchers, businesses, and donors.
The political declaration just approved today reflects the importance of a whole of society, whole of Government approach – and makes evidence-based recommendations to end TB by 2030.
But time is running out.
I rely on YOU to inspire political commitments driven by science, equity and inclusion.
I encourage you to use today's platform to send a clear and united message.
Together – up at the top – we can end TB.
Thank you very much.