Return to CEO Perspective
October 11, 2017

Speech at 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health. My sincere thanks to the government of Mexico, the city of Guadalajara and our local partners who have worked with us to make it possible.

Mexico is an incredibly important country in the fight against TB and to the governance of The Union. As the G20 countries assume greater leadership for tackling drug-resistant TB and to funding TB research, Mexico has a critical role to play, both regionally and globally.

And I hope that this year’s conference in Guadalajara will help pave the way to a larger role for Mexico in the fight against TB.

This year’s Union World Conference convenes during one of the most critical moments in the global fight against tuberculosis.

Last year, the World Health Organization announced that TB is now the world’s leading infectious-disease killer. And the review of antimicrobial resistance commissioned by the UK government projected that by 2050, we could see as many as 2.5 million deaths annually from drug-resistant TB.

The status quo is intolerable.

And so our theme this year is Accelerating Toward Elimination. My hope for this conference is that it will galvanize our community in a way that no other conference has before, to move from incremental steps to taking giant leaps toward the global goal to end the TB epidemic.

It requires that we move faster progress on multiple fronts – on TB and its comorbidities like HIV and diabetes. On childhood TB. On reducing poverty.

It means we must fight back harder against the influence of the tobacco industry—an industry that just a few weeks ago announced it is going to spend a billion US dollars on advocacy over the next few years.

It’s going to require us to make leaps in reducing the pollution that poisons the air we breathe.

This is our urgent duty. We all share it.

Luckily, this year’s conference is also taking place in a moment of enormous opportunity. As we will see presented here this week, scientific research is producing numerous innovations that we can harness to accelerate progress.

At the same time, we must make the most of the political opportunities ahead.

Next month, the World Health Organization and the government of the Russian Federation are convening the first Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era.

And next year, the United Nations will host the first-ever High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis.

These are extraordinary opportunities, and I am confident we will seize them to mobilize unprecedented support for ending the TB epidemic.

The clock is ticking. We have an urgent duty. And we must fulfill it together. It is up to us.

For our part, The Union is forging new partnerships through which we are pursuing innovation in the global TB response.

As we all know, the Global Fund has had a huge impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Global Fund has been a very strong financing partner for The Union — for example, in India, where with Global Fund support The Union has been working in thousands of affected communities, applying innovative approaches to helping people at risk for TB access screening and diagnosis, and linking patients to community-based care.

And so it is my pleasure to announce a new partnership between The Union and the Global Fund.

To join me in making this announcement, I would like to welcome Doctor Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations of the Global Fund, to join me here on the stage.

The Union and the Global Fund have entered into a partnership through which we will work to help close TB financing gaps in three countries. Those countries are India, Zimbabwe and Myanmar, where The Union has long had a country presence.

Through this partnership, we will develop new innovative financing instruments to support TB programs in these three countries.

We will mobilize resources from new partners that will be used to further TB efforts in these countries.

And we will partner together to advocate for innovative solutions that can accelerate progress against tuberculosis.

We are very excited about this and know that it will be a fruitful collaboration. I now invite Christoph to say a few words.

Christoph Benn:

As José said, to reach the global goal of eliminating the TB epidemic by 2030, we need to accelerate our progress. This need is so urgent that it’s the entire theme of this week’s conference.

What we can achieve through traditional models of financing is not enough to drive that acceleration. To achieve the global goal, we need to be innovative in our approach to finding new resources for TB programs.

That’s why our partnership with The Union is so important. It represents our efforts to build a bigger platform for resource mobilization for TB.

The Union has very deep technical expertise and is a respected partner within countries. Working together in countries facing large funding gaps, we will involve new players who can help us invest in the work of eliminating TB.

On behalf of the Global Fund, we are very much looking forward to working closely with you José and with the broader Union in what is a critical time for TB. Thank you.

Back to top