Results UK is one of TBEC’s main partners working in the UK and one of the few organisations focusing on TB. Today, their Parliamentary Advocacy Officer for Tuberculosis, Janika Hauser, will explain a bit about the situation in the UK and the campaigns she has been involved in. Janika spends her days engaging parliamentarians with RESULTS’ work on TB. She also serves as the Policy Advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group on TB, working with a passionate group of MPs and Peers who want to make sure that the UK government plays a leading role in the defeat of the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
Advocacy on Tuberculosis in the UK
Whether I am speaking with a Member of Parliament in London or a member of the general public in Birmingham, awareness around TB is incredibly low in the UK. While most people will have heard about HIV and Malaria, few will know that TB kills more people each year than the other two diseases combined. Even fewer know that the UK continues to have one of the highest rates of TB in Western Europe, with vulnerable and marginalised communities at greatest risk.
We’re lucky that the UK still invests in TB despite low levels of public awareness and remains one of the largest international donors for both the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and TB research. That said, the targets set at the UN High-Level Meeting on TB will only be met if countries like the UK leverage increases in their own investment to draw others to the table. At the same time, with vulnerable and marginalised groups continuing to be at the greatest risk of developing TB – while also being the least likely to access diagnosis and treatment – the UK’s own TB programme requires further strengthening.
Advocacy on tuberculosis related to these policy changes and investments can be incredibly difficult when there are so few stakeholders working on TB. While numerous national and international charities, foundations, and patient groups exist around HIV, for example, the TB community in the UK remains very small. Therefore, finding allies and making sure we work together is absolutely vital if we are to have an impact on advocacy on tuberculosis in the UK.
UK Academics and Professionals to End TB
One of our most successful collaborations in the last year has been working with a network of UK academics and professionals. The network started very organically in the run up to the UN High-Level Meeting, and brought together leading researchers, doctors and nurses who wanted to make sure the UN High-Level Meeting was a success, but hadn’t previously engaged in advocacy. By working with them as a civil society organisation, coordinating our activities and linking them with the national TB caucus, we successfully lobbied for high-level attendance from the UK government, pushed for stronger language in the political declaration, and called for the government to make a concrete funding announcement during the meeting.
Because of their standing within British society, the group had significant influence on key decision makers, with one of their letters being featured in a major British newspaper and with frequent reference to their work in a key parliamentary debate. They even managed to secure funding to send a small delegation to the UN High-Level Meeting itself!
Today, RESULTS UK is working to help formalise the group, now called ‘UK Academics and Professionals to End TB’. Alongside engaging in key global processes, the Group has already begun work on a survey of catastrophic costs for TB patients in the UK and hopes to tackle other domestic policy issues, with their expertise and advice helping to shape the work of RESULTS UK and the national TB caucus.
Teamwork really does make the dream work, so if you’re interested in setting up a similar network in your own country or region, please get in touch!
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