By: H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma – Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union ‎Commission

24 March 2023, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – As Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development of the African Union Commission (AUC), I join the rest of the world to commemorate the 2023 World Tuberculosis (TB) Day under the theme, Yes! We Can End TB!”.

The global theme for the day induces a fresh perspective of hope for collective power, ‎attention, and energy to end TB by 2030. The message comes at a time when we are encouraged by ongoing collaborative works between governments, scientists, healthcare workers, development partners and communities to produce more effective TB treatment. All the TB-related policies – AU Agenda  2063, Africa Health Strategy (2016 – 2030) ‎‎‎and the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB, and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030 – champion partnership for sustainable development and prosperity in Africa. We must join efforts to ensure that ‎all the hard work is amplified to result in improved TB awareness, prevention, detection, and treatment.‎

It is well understood that TB infection is influenced by social and economic development determinants such as HIV infection, malnutrition, diabetes, smoking and alcohol use abuse. The significant impact of HIV co-infection among TB patients in Africa calls for stronger integration of TB and HIV-enhanced services. The AU Commission’s social development agenda 2063 is premised on delivering a human-centred approach to promote socioeconomic wellness, human rights and dignity. I believe that addressing the social determinants of health, such as ‎housing, income and access to culturally-appropriate health care, can potentially drive down the TB epidemic.‎ ‎Advancing the implementation of the AU Theme of the Year 2022 on Nutrition and Food Security will also increase food security sustainability,‎ thereby reducing TB disease prevalence.

The necessity to protect vulnerable groups affected by humanitarian emergencies – including children, people with disabilities, and older persons – and preserve their social welfare ‎is crucial now more than ever, as they are vulnerable to severe direct and indirect financial and economic costs that pose barriers significantly affecting their access to TB diagnosis and treatment. Increased investment in strategies to reach vulnerable populations is crucial to fulfilling the End TB Strategy ‎(2023-2030). The Strategy envisions reduced TB incidence by 80%, TB deaths by 90%, and eliminated catastrophic costs for TB-affected households by 2030; it is achievable if we all work together.

Ensuring equitable access to prevention, treatment and care for this disease across all ‎AU Member States requires adequate funding for TB and TB/HIV services and relevant advocacy, research and innovation activities. The 2022 Global TB Report illustrates a decline in global spending on essential TB services.  The “Addis Ababa Commitment towards Shared Responsibility and Global ‎Solidarity for ‎Increased Health Financing Declaration” (AU Assembly ALM ‎Declaration) calls for mobilising adequate domestic resources for health care to reach all who need it. There is an urgent need to intensify efforts to mobilise additional funds from domestic sources and international donors.

The 2023 UN High-Level Meeting on TB in ‎September will allow leaders to renew their commitment to accelerate efforts to end TB.‎ When leaders speak boldly about TB, and other communicable and non-communicable diseases, it breaks barriers created by ‎stigma and inequality. I urge all AU Member States to join hands to demonstrate bold, ‎accountable leadership towards ending  TB.

In conclusion, the AU Commission reaffirms its commitment to creating the enabling environment for sustained political will, needed to eliminate TB and improve the health of Africa’s people.

I thank you.

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