STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY H.E. MR. JOSé ÁNGEL PORTAL MIRANDA, MINISTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON THE FIGHT AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS (New York, 22 September 2023)
1- I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2- The convening of this High-Level Meeting on the Fight Against Tuberculosis is timely. This preventable and curable disease continues to represent a critical challenge that disproportionately affects developing countries. An estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis and approximately 1.6 million people died from it in 2021.
3- Tuberculosis is linked to a majority of the leading development challenges addressed by the 2030 Agenda. While anyone can contract tuberculosis, this disease affects mostly the poorest communities, and further aggravates their economic hardship. It affects the population inequitably and contributes to the cycle of ill health and poverty. Malnutrition and inadequate living conditions contribute to the spread of tuberculosis and its impact. Hence, the response to tuberculosis requires prioritizing not only health needs, but also development from a broader perspective.
4- In this regard, the Group notes with concern that the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to have a damaging impact on access to tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, and that progress in the response to tuberculosis has slowed, stalled or reversed, and related global targets are off track. However, this situation is not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
5- The structural inequalities of the current international economic order and financial system continue to exert a heavy toll in the capacities of developing countries to further advance in this area, as part of their development efforts.
6- Developing countries continue to face hindered access to tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care; insufficient financial support and international cooperation for technology transfer and capacity building; and the failure to comply with of ODA commitments and tuberculosis-related financial commitments. In this regard, the Group notes with great concern that financing for tuberculosis research and innovation is only half of the 2 billion US dollars a year target agreed in the 2018 political declaration, and that no new vaccines for the prevention of new forms of TB have been licensed in 100 years.
7- It has also been difficult to witness, as part of the negotiation process of the political declaration of this High-Level Meeting, some developed partners trying to neglect and invisibilize the fact that tuberculosis disproportionately affects developing countries and that these nations do not have the same resources or capacity to confront this challenge. Such approach is not reassuring on the shared commitment to fight tuberculosis and leave no one behind, especially after what COVID-19 revealed for the need to strengthen all health systems.
8- In a similar vein, the Group notes with concern that several of its priorities were ignored during the negotiation process of the political declaration, that should have been more inclusive, transparent and balanced. This is a practice that the Group cannot condone nor accept in the future.
9- Looking forward, the Group is convinced that the fight against tuberculosis requires a true commitment from all countries to multilateralism, international cooperation and global solidarity, in the following areas:
a) Achieving the 2030 Agenda, complying with the commitments of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and supporting developing countries, particularly those in special situations.
b) Ensuring sufficient, adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for universal and unhindered access to quality tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.
c) Ensuring sustainable, financial and technical support to developing countries with a view to build and strengthen the capacities of national health systems, while acknowledging that strong and resilient public health systems are an essential pillar of the tuberculosis response.
d) Ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for tuberculosis research and innovation especially to high burden countries towards reaching 5 billion US dollars a year by 2027, while acknowledging the need to further promote the participation of institutions from developing countries in tuberculosis research and innovation.
10- On a similar note, the Group underscores that many developing countries will not be able to advance in the fight against tuberculosis, while they face unilateral coercive measures, which have a direct and negative impact on the health and wellbeing of their population. The Group reaffirms that the imposition of coercive economic measures against developing countries does not contribute to economic and social development, and reiterates the urgent need to eliminate them immediately.
11- To conclude, the Group of 77 and China reassures its commitment with the fight against tuberculosis, and hopes that by 2028, when the third high-level meeting on this important issue is held, there is significant progress at the global level, but particularly in developing countries.
I thank you.