For the past week ACTION Project Manager Kate Finch has been attending the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) Conference in Mexico. This annual conference brings together stakeholders from around the world working in the areas of TB and lung health. This year’s conference ‘Poverty and Lung Health’ aimed to take further steps to address some of the specific health challenges facing millions of people living in poverty.
Although the delivery of health services to those most vulnerable often falls to the communities themselves, those communities need resources, including long term financial commitments from governments around the world. This commitment requires political will at both the local and international level, and parliamentarians have a key role to play in generating, and sustaining this political commitment.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB, supported by ACTION partners from around the world, held a workshop on Friday 4 December entitled ‘Engaging parliamentarians in the fight against TB’. Thirty conference participants attended the workshop and a follow up brainstorming session, which focused on providing civil society organisations practical strategies to increase awareness of TB amongst their members of parliament. Participants from Mexico, Peru, Nigeria, Sweden, Brazil, South Africa, Ukraine, US, UK, France, Cameroon, Canada and India shared successes as well as country specific challenges of working with parliamentarians. Participants were keen to learn and share their approaches to engage government, and alliances were formed for future collaboration at regional and local levels.
Kate commented that “there were many common challenges of working with MPs that were shared from countries from the UK to Peru, to India and Nigeria. However, what was really clear was that in those countries where TB is high on the political agenda, it is civil society that has a central role in putting it there and subsequently holding their MPs to account to deliver on their commitments.”
It is hoped that this workshop is a step in the creation of a network of parliamentary TB champions around the world who can advocate alongside their civil society partners for greater political commitment in the fight against TB.