Geneva, 13 December 2017 – On the occasion of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, dedicated to ensuring that everyone in the world can access the health services they need without suffering financial hardship, the side event “Reaching the underserved and vulnerable: TB responses as a pathway to UHC” took place yesterday in Tokyo in the framework of the UHC Forum 2017.
UHC is key to promoting equity, human security, development, and growth. Without universal access to high-quality health care and public health services, millions of people die unnecessarily every year of TB. An effective TB response requires robust health systems and rapid progress towards universal and equitable access to high-quality TB prevention, treatment, care, and support. So how can TB responses and other strategies to advance UHC be aligned and leveraged to work for the most vulnerable populations?
The side event addressed these concerns, and focused on the importance of increasing the synergies between global advocacy and strategies for ending the TB epidemic and targeting improved pooled financing for health care free of financial hardship.
“TB is the top infectious killer disease globally costing 1.7 million lives every year, affecting disproportionally the poor and vulnerable populations. The progressive move towards UHC and the national TB response should be advanced simultaneously, especially in high-burden countries”, said Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems at the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Governments must ensure that TB patients everywhere in the world have access to the healthcare they need. Building on the political momentum on UHC, we applaud the Japanese government’s and global efforts elsewhere to continue strengthening global advocacy and political commitment to TB and UHC”, said Haileyesus Getahun, Interim Director of the Global TB Programme at WHO. “Ending the TB epidemic in part through universal coverage of TB care and prevention requires speedy implementation of the WHO End TB Strategy, which demands significantly enhanced resources – human and financial – for an effective response through strengthened health and community systems”.
Japan has been among the leaders in efforts to promote UHC worldwide and has strongly contributed to global TB efforts, from bilateral cooperation, human resource development, contribution through multilateral agencies, including WHO and The Global Fund, to development of new tools and medicines to combat TB.
The discussions at the side event built on the outcome of the first WHO Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB that was just held in Moscow in mid-November. This witnessed consensus for a Declaration with a commitment by nearly 120 national delegations, and contributions of hundreds of partners to accelerate action to end TB including through their national health policies and strategies for UHC, and increased and sustainable financing. The outcomes of that conference will inform the first-ever UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB to take place in New York in 2018.
The side event was co-organized by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (FGFJ) / Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (JATA) and WHO.
Speakers at the side event were Akio Okawara, President and CEO, JCIE; Tamaki Tsukada, Deputy Assistant Minister for International Cooperation and Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis; Chieko Ikeda, Senior Assistant Minister for Global Health, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.
The panels featured Keizo Takemi, House of Councillors, Japan; Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director General for Universal Health Coverage & Health Systems, WHO; Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Professor, Columbia University Medical Center; Haileyesus Getahun, Interim Director of the Global TB Programme, WHO; Jacqueline Weekers, Director for Migration Health Division, International Organization for Migration (IOM); Maria May, Head, Executive Director’s Office, BRAC; Kenneth G. Ronquillo, Department of Health, the Philippines.
The panels were moderated by Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations at The Global Fund and by Suvanand Sahu, Deputy Executive Director of The Stop TB Partnership.