On Tuesday the APPG on Global TB hosted a meeting in Westminster entitled ‘Combating Tuberculosis: From Social Determinants to Policy Bottlenecks’.
Special guest speaker Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department, highlighted the successes we have had to date in the fight against TB. These include 2 million deaths averted and 32 million people cured of the disease between 1995 and 2008. But Dr. Raviglione also emphasised that at the current rate it will take literally a thousand years for TB to be eradicated and said that greater political will and increased investment are needed to combat TB.
International Development Minister Mike Foster responded by acknowledging that there is still much to do to address global TB. He suggested that as well as DFID’s long-term commitments there was a need to look at alternative funding streams for development, perhaps including a ‘Tobin Tax’.The Tobin tax is a small tax on speculative financial transactions and has the potential to raise billions of pounds globally. RESULTS is currently campaigning for a Currency Transaction Levy, or CTL (see our earlier post on the subject), which is a kind of Tobin Tax.
A significant step forward was made recently when Gordon Brown supported the idea of a CTL, and Mike Foster’s comments on Tuesday show that a ‘Tobin Tax’ continues to be considered by the UK government as a credible source of new development funding.
RESULTS’s December action on World Aids Day will be to call on Gordon Brown and the heads of the other major political parties in the UK to support a CTL specifically to provide resources for global health. Mike Foster’s comments at the APPG meeting are a step forward for the campaign for a CTL for health, and provides a strong basis for our action on Tuesday’s conference call.
At the meeting, Mr Foster also announced that DFID have finally appointed a new TB lead within the department, and representatives from the UK Coalition to Stop TB will be meeting with this appointee to gauge a better idea of DFID’s strategy to fight TB over the next few years.
What was clear during the meeting was the important role that the APPG on Global TB plays in highlighting TB with the UK. Mario Raviglione thanked the group for the work that they do, and commented that no other country has such a committed all-party group of parliamentarians dedicated to fighting the disease!