Business leaders have launched a new initiative to support the achievement of international tuberculosis (TB) targets by the time that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.
The initiative forms the seventh ‘pillar’ of the MDG Health Alliance’s strategy and will be spearheaded by Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) with support from GBCHealth and the Stop TB Partnership. By drawing on private sector resources and skills the TB pillar aims to dramatically accelerate progress in the fight against TB, particularly in Southern Africa.
Although the world as a whole is on track to achieve the international target of cutting TB deaths by half by 2015, Africa is not. To address this, the companies and organizations working on the TB pillar will work closely with governments to strengthen their TB response, promote private sector innovation in TB and raise the profile of TB among policy makers. They also aim to promote more efficient use of resources by increasing the quantity and quality of strategic information on TB.
“Now is the time for the private sector to commit to doing more to fight TB,” said Gary Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of the MDG Health Alliance and acting CEO of GBC Health. “We have waited far too long to eliminate this ancient disease and we must wait no longer. I am proud to be a part of this renewed effort and I encourage other companies to join us in this initiative.”
The launch of the TB pillar follows recent calls for new and enhanced public-private partnerships to address TB in Southern Africa. In August 2012, Southern African Development Community heads of state signed a Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector, encouraging the private sector to join implementation efforts.
This was followed by a World TB Day event in Swaziland on 21 March 2013 where health leaders from government, development partners and the private sector committed to accelerate the response to the TB and TB/HIV epidemics in Africa. Signatories to the Swaziland Statement, including government ministers and representatives from UNAIDS, the Global Fund and the private sector agreed to work with Southern African countries to achieve international TB targets by 2015.
“This is an exciting time and BD is pleased to be leading this effort,” said Renuka Gadde, Vice President for Global Health at BD. “We have committed to providing seed funding for an office in South Africa which will be hosted by GBC South Africa to facilitate this work. By working together with partners like the Stop TB Partnership and GBCHealth I am confident we can play a significant role in turning the tide against TB in the region.”
Speaking at a ‘TB Spotlight’ event at the 2013 GBCHealth Conference, Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, welcomed the launch of the TB pillar. “If the number of TB cases continues to decline at the same rate, it will take us over 200 years to bring the global disease burden to that of the United States,” she said. “I would like to see three things in the global fight against TB—universal coverage of TB care using the tools that we have, a steep increase in funding for research and development of new tools, and the involvement of the private sector in developing strong business cases for TB. With the launch of the TB pillar I am very pleased to see great progress on this third front.”
The MDG Health Alliance is a group of leaders from the private, public and nonprofit sectors that works in partnership with the United Nations Secretary-General’s MDG advocates and was brought together by Ray Chambers, the UN Special Envoy for Malaria and for Financing the Health-related MDGs.
GBC Health is a membership organization that aims to engage the private sector with the world’s most pressing global health issues.