2018 provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the fight against tuberculosis, the world’s deadliest infectious disease. TB has never received the same high-level political attention as other global health threats, despite its enormous human and economic costs. But after years of neglect, political engagement has grown over the last two years, partly because of the growing threat posed by drug-resistant TB. The G20 meeting of world leaders in July 2017 put TB in their list of global priorities for the first time, and last month, the G7 meeting in Canada also explicitly mentioned the fight against TB in its communiqué.
This year, the first ever UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB will be held on 26 September. Themed “United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic”, it will allow world leaders to put their stated ambitions on TB into action, make concrete commitments, and develop ways to hold countries accountable for their promises. With a history of leadership on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and investing in TB programmes, the UK is in a unique position to make the HLM a success, by taking a leading role in helping the international community to step up action against TB. The Prime Minister’s attendance at the HLM will be essential in making this happen.