Director-General's Office

High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-General

United Nations General Assembly, New York, USA
26 September 2018

Excellencies Heads of State, Excellencies Heads of Government,

Your Excellency Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa-Garcés, President of the General Assembly,

Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Excellencies, distinguished guests, TB survivors, colleagues and friends,

Today is a historic day in our battle with an ancient disease.

Tuberculosis has plagued humanity for millennia. And it’s still with us.

TB knows no borders. Everyone is at risk. But it thrives where there is poverty, malnutrition or conflict.

As has been said earlier, TB killed 1.6 million people last year alone. It is the world’s biggest infectious killer, one of the world’s top ten causes of death, and the top cause of death among people living with HIV-AIDS.

By the end of today, nearly 4400 people will have lost their lives to TB – including more than 600 children.

Antibiotic resistance is making a deadly enemy even more dangerous. More than half a million people fall ill with drug-resistant TB every year. Only 1 in 4 of them have access to treatment, and only half of those are treated successfully.

TB doesn’t only destroy health; it also causes significant financial hardship for those it strikes.

Enough is enough. It’s time to end TB.

To do that, we must reach everyone with quality care.

At the moment, millions of people are being left behind.

Earlier this year we launched a new initiative to find and treat all 40 million people who need care by 2022. We’re asking all political leaders to commit to becoming “40 Million Champions” to help us reach that goal.

So, what do we need to do to succeed, is the question. We need to do three things.

First, we need your unwavering support. We can only succeed with political commitment from the highest levels, and action to back it up.

Second, we need increased investments, especially in science and research. We need new medicines, new vaccines and new diagnostics.

Third, we must hold each other accountable for the promises we are making today. That’s why we are developing a multisectoral accountability framework with four components: commitment, action, monitoring and review, to ensure we match our talk with real, lasting change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The declaration we’re approving today includes ambitious but achievable targets.

Together, we are committing to treat 40 million people with TB in the next five years;

To provide 30 million people with treatment to prevent TB;

To reach the most vulnerable and marginalized populations first, not last;

To fight stigma and discrimination, and protect and promote human rights;

To overcome the global health crisis of drug resistance;

To invest $2 billion a year in research and innovation;

To mobilize $13 billion a year to translate plans into results;

And to hold each other accountable for those results.

These are bold promises.

To keep them, partnership is vital. None of us can do it alone.

WHO is committed to working with every country, every partner and every community, to get the job done.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

TB is a fearsome disease. There are many others.

The best way to protect the people we serve against all threats is to invest in stronger health systems built on primary health care.

The global conference on primary health care in Astana, Kazakhstan next month is a vital opportunity to recommit to primary health care as the backbone of every health system.

Twelve months from now we will gather again in this room for the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. I hope to see all of you here to commit to a world in which all people have access to the health services they need – the health services they deserve – without worrying about whether they can afford them.

Universal health coverage will bring everything together, as our Deputy Secretary-General said.

Thank you for the commitments you are making today.

Now it’s time to deliver.

There has never been a better opportunity to make TB history.

Thank you so much.