Clinton adds his voice

16 Aug 2018 - 09:45

Former President of the United States Bill Clinton delivered a keynote address on the final day of the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS2018) which took place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He called for heads of state to attend the UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB taking place in September, insisting on continued and increased financial commitment to both TB and HIV/AIDS.

“I am very hopeful that in a couple months the UN will hold the first HLM on TB. And I hope that Prime Minister Modi of India and other leaders will go”, he said.

“If anyone thinks that we can possibly bring the developing world to where we want it to be by abandoning the fight against HIV/AIDS and the collateral struggle against TB, you need to think again. There is no ‘Brexit’ option that does not end badly.”

President Clinton’s remarks were followed by a special session on TB and HIV in which Union board member Blessina Kumar, former board member Carol Nyirenda and Partners in Health Co-founder Dr Paul Farmer, discussed how to ‘seize the moment’ for TB with UN Special Envoy for TB, Dr Eric Goosby.

Kumar called for communities and affected populations to be at the centre of the TB response. “We need to be sure there’s access to TB medications – both current and new. The lessons learned from HIV activism need to come into the TB response”, she said, as she welcomed activists from Treatment Action Campaign to take to the floor, demanding affordable generic TB drugs.

Dr Farmer abandoned his prepared notes on diagnostics to speak instead about the issues of social justice inherent in the fight to end TB – a conversation that the TB community will continue at the Union World Conference on Lung Health in October, with a theme of ‘Declaring out Rights: Social and Political Solutions’.

“It’s important to remember that the biggest problems facing us are structural – around gender, poverty and inequality – a disregard for others for many reasons.” Dr Farmer said.

“It’s appalling that it is still possible that the leading killer of people living with HIV is TB. To turn this around requires going to meetings like this one. This is a problem of our peers thinking it is ok to set our standards low for ‘them’ – for others.” 

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