25 January 2018 | Seoul, Republic of Korea – An outcome statement to step up action to end TB was released today outlining pledges of support from civil society, countries and partners. The statement highlights key opportunities, actions and next steps to empower and strengthen community and civil society engagement to end TB, and is the culmination of a landmark consultation organized by the WHO Regional Office of the Western Pacific and the Korean Institute of Tuberculosis (KIT) on 11-13 December. The workshop brought together more than 40 participants from countries and partners, including the regional members of the revamped WHO Civil Society Task Force to strengthen global and regional mechanisms for civil society engagement.
“We need the voice and power of those most affected by TB and civil society to drive action to reach the ambitious commitments made by Heads of State at the UN High Level Meeting on TB,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “The WPRO regional consultation has charted a course of systematic collaboration, accountability, investment and action to empower civil society engagement to end TB.”
Dr Tauhid Islam, Coordinator, End TB and Leprosy, WPRO added, “This consultation has been critical to bring together key representatives civil society, countries and partners to form a strong civil-society led coalition to end TB for the region. The WHO Office for the Western Pacific Region will work closely with the participants of the consultation to finalize an action plan and annual score card to monitor the regional response.”
Representatives of affected communities and civil society applauded the consultation and pledged to working with WPRO and partners to translate the commitments made at the consultation to action. Below are a few quotes from TB survivors who actively participated in the consultation.
Louie Zepeda, member of Regional Green Light Committee: “It is just amazing to hear that everyone is just eager to start the conversation on how we will start changing the system in each of the country. The atmosphere in the room felt easy, because we all know that we have the same hardships in different levels. There was that confidence that we can cry in the crowd, because we know we are all in this same boat, looking for answers.”
Eden A. Mariano, Philippines: “This workshop is very useful. I'll work with TB program in my country to systematically strengthen community engagement to end TB."
Maura Elaripe, Papua New Guinea: “We must empower and support communities to end TB now”.
Jeff Acaba, member of Global civil society task force: "The regional workshop that both WHO WPRO and KIT organized in December was timely and crucial in this post-TB High-Level Meeting (HLM) era. The message was clear at the meeting: only by working with us civil society, TB-affected communities, and TB survivors, we can truly end the TB epidemic in the Western Pacific region. WHO's leadership and openness to work with us as equal partners shows their commitment in putting communities front and center of the TB response. I look forward to this strengthened engagement with WHO WPRO, NTP, and partners who attended the meeting."