Global TB Caucus held an online meeting with Heads of National TB Caucuses in the EECA region on 11/06/2020 to discuss the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has impacted on other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

Matters discussed during the meeting included; the importance of reaching across political and geographical divides and building commitment in members’ own countries and beyond to secure a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the TB epidemic, based on the rights to health for every human being. 

Globally the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on global health and wellbeing was acknowledged, including severe disruption of societies and economies and the sudden shift in the priorities of other health services with focus on COVID-19. Globally for TB, this means that infection rate and deaths would increase at alarming levels hence leading to an additional 6 million people falling ill and 1.4 million additional deaths.

There was emphasis, on the fact that the poor and vulnerable people are the most affected and that the impact of COVID-19 will have unprecedented repercussions on TB, hampering progress already made in the achievement of the vital targets agreed in the political declaration from the UN High-Level Meeting on TB by at least 5 to 8 years.

Participants recognised that the pandemic highlights the need for patients focus and publicly-funded product development in vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics and these investments need to ensure access and affordability for all. This is true for COVID as well as diseases like TB and other current and future pandemics in the EECA region.

There was a commitment by leaders of the EECA regional TB Caucus to apply the experience acquired from the past five years at the forefront of political advocacy efforts on tackling TB and to use all of the means at their disposal to urge sustained action from governments to control to COVID-19.

Recommendations made:

  • Reaffirm their commitment to the Political Declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.
  • Work with the national government to ensure rational and effective use of existing finance at the national, regional, and global levels.
  • To monitor and support a sustainable financial transition of the Global Fund to national and local budget.
  • Call on the national government and the ministry of health to resume essential health services
  • To assist the ministry of health to implement more proactive measures to minimise the preservation of the highest percentage of early TB cases and timely medical care and successful treatment of TB patients.
  • Ensure that ministers adopt and implement in a prompt manner an effective national TB program in accordance with the universal health coverage.
  • Support the World Health Organisation and work in close collaboration to strengthen national health systems.
  • Work with national TB programme managers, civil society organisations and international organisations to develop supportive and risk mitigation strategies.
  • To encourage full engagement of communities and civil society in TB prevention and care 
  • To ensure that health-sector response to COVID-19 is gender and rights-based

The resolution’s main objective is to emphasize the importance of overcoming political and geographical divisions in order to strengthen the commitment to tackle infectious diseases and to ensure a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the tuberculosis epidemic based on the right to health for everyone.

This blog was written by one of our member organisations, The Global TB Caucus

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