UN Commitment on Tuberculosis Needs Leadership to Match Ambition

Statement from Mel Spigelman, MD, President and CEO of TB Alliance

September 22, 2023

TB Alliance wholeheartedly supports the commitment made today at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (TB) to fight this age-old disease and urges the rapid mobilization of funding and resources needed to meet this moment. TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, with more than 1.5 billion people infected, 10 million people with active TB and 1.6 million dying each year.

Already, there are countries making great strides in addressing TB. We look for example to countries like Ukraine, the Philippines, South Africa, and Indonesia, whose governments were the first to deploy six-month, all-oral regimens to treat drug-resistant TB. This is the type of leadership and action that illustrates the rapid progress in TB treatment that can be made across the globe. As we call for the scale up of new treatments, diagnostics, and other tools recently developed to fight TB, we must also scale up global leadership, political will, and funding to combat TB.

Further, we must reinvest in partnerships, working together diligently across geographies to advance TB research, education, prevention, and care. Markedly increased investment in TB R&D and associated access initiatives are a requirement if we are to achieve the progress outlined in the Political Declaration. The commitments made at today’s United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB recognize that all people with TB require access to the best possible tools.

While recent innovations in TB R&D and improvements in TB care have been lifesaving and a source of hope for all, we must even more rapidly continue to further improve the tools at hand including the development of one or more highly effective vaccines and further strengthen health care systems around the world. Today, active TB is curable with a combination of powerful antibiotics taken for four to six months and latent TB is curable with one month of treatment. We can and need to do much better and to do it quickly.   

With strong political will, global cooperation, and markedly enhanced investment, we can eliminate TB once and for all.