Tuberculosis (TB)

WHO and the Indonesian Ministry of Health convene over 200 global youth in historic Town Hall to End TB

15 July 2019 | Jakarta - Over 200 young people from all over the world pledged their commitment to end tuberculosis (TB) at the first-ever Youth Town Hall on ending TB in Jakarta on July 15, 2019. Through a bold Youth Declaration on the Fight to End TB, youth representatives including from high TB burden countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya and the Philippines, outlined key commitments and actions they would lead to accelerate efforts to end TB.  The declaration is aligned to and will contribute to reaching the targets set in the political declaration of the UN High Level Meeting by Heads of State, the WHO End TB Strategy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We now have highest level commitments to end TB, but the burden of TB remains immense with 10 million people falling ill with TB each year and a third missing out on access to care. We need to urgently translate commitments into action to save lives. Young people with their passion, dedication and innovative mindset are a crucial asset in efforts to end TB. They are also the age group that bears the heaviest burden of the disease causing untold suffering to them and their families as well as death.Youth can play a major role in catalyzing action,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “We need all hands-on-deck to wipe out this top killer, to ensure no youth is left behind in accessing care and to enable meaningful youth participation in decision-making at all levels. This youth town hall is a critical first step in this direction, and I urge more youth to join this important movement to end TB".

The Youth Town Hall to end TB was convened by WHO and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, in collaboration with CISDI, to provide a platform for active and meaningful involvement of young leaders in the efforts to end TB. The Declaration resulting from the Town Hall highlighted 6 key areas of action that could benefit from greater youth engagement: building greater awareness and the capacity of young people to meaningfully participate in efforts to end TB; fighting stigma and discrimination; advocating for psychosocial and socioeconomic support for TB survivors to enable them to lead meaningful lives; promoting research and innovations; advocating for funding to close gaps; and promoting multisectoral collaboration and accountability with youth participation.

Despite progress over the past decades, TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer, claiming nearly 4,500 lives a day. According to WHO, no country in the world is free from TB. TB not only impacts health and wellbeing, it also impacts society and the country’s economy. The estimated main driver of such a disadvantage would be lost productivity of its work force due to absenteeism,  transmission of disease and premature death.

“Meaningful engagement of young people is imperative and unavoidable in health development as they are the beneficiaries of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Young people are key drivers and accelerators in ensuring achievement of the SDGs. They are impact-makers whose outreach and energy extend from global to national and sub-national levels. At present, youth engagement strategy is being developed at regional levels as a consequence of the regional youth town halls help consecutively in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Asia Pacific region and Western Pacific region. Within those strategies, youth address the key challenges as well as the enabling factors to position themselves as key change-makers of development, including in the area of Tuberculosis,” said Diah Saminarsih, Senior Advisor on Gender and Youth to the WHO Director General.

Indonesia is taking the lead in promoting meaningful youth involvement in addressing world’s most urgent challenges. As a country with the highest youth population after Brazil, India, and China, providing space for youth in developing the nation becomes the current agenda of the Ministry of Health. “After co-hosting the South East Asia Region Youth Town Hall and the first ever National Youth Town Hall attended by more than 1,600 young people, we believe that this reflects the spirit and energy that young people have to take part in addressing development challenges. Indonesia does face significant challenges in health. That is why, we need more stakeholders, including young people, to join us fighting against TB” said Prof. Dr. Nila Moeloek, SpM(K), Minister of Health, Indonesia.

"Being tech-savvy, young people are able to optimize the advancement of technology and digital media help tackle several issues to end TB such as fighting against stigma and discrimination , building stronger awareness not only of the disease and its impact but also of the surrounding support system, empowering people with TB to be productive, advocate the issue and gain financial support in addressing the challenges, and to promote accountability and action to end TB by 2030,” said Madhusudan Kaphle, youth advocate, TB free world.