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Faith communities demand action to end TB, a major killer in people living with HIV

Faith communities demand action to end TB, a major killer in people living with HIV

In June 2017, faith leaders and children marched through Nairobi, for the rights of children to appropriate medical screening, treatment and care. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

21 May 2018

The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) is inviting a “letter writing action”, encouraging religious leaders and faith communities to speak out for action against Tuberculosis (TB).

“TB and its drug-resistant forms constitute a global health crisis,” explains Francesca Merico, coordinator of the WCC-EAA HIV campaign. “TB is airborne and causes the most deaths worldwide of any single communicable disease.”

“While preventable and curable, it is among the top ten causes of child mortality globally, and the risk of developing tuberculosis is estimated to be between 16-27 times greater in people living with HIV than among those without HIV infection,” Merico adds.

The United Nations General Assembly is to hold a High-Level Meeting on the fight against tuberculosis on 26 September, under the theme of “United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic”. At the meeting, UN member states are expected to adopt a Political Declaration on Ending TB.

“This event is an enormous opportunity to build political will to end TB,” says Merico, “and it is very important that the discussions include churches, faith communities and related institutions, for making sure that each government is represented at the highest level.”

“Ending TB requires high-level political leadership: churches, faith communities and leaders need to speak up to change the situation, to demand that action is taken by governments and the international community,” Merico concludes.

Through a letter writing action, the WCC-EAA is encouraging faith leaders, churches, representatives of faith-based organizations and people of faith to ask to their governments to urgently take action to End TB, to make sure that the meeting goes beyond mere rhetoric, and to help ensure a meaningful outcome.

A letter template has been drafted for addressing Ministries of Health, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Heads of State to participate in the United Nations High Level Meeting to End TB, to ask for a commitment to reaching all people with diagnosis and treatment; to a people-centered, rights-based, equitable response to TB; to develop new tools to end TB; to adequate funding; and the set-up of an accountability mechanism to ensure a decisive and accountable global leadership, including regular UN reporting and review.

Letter template, Faith Leaders to End TB

Blog: Time for religious leaders to speak out - No child should die of TB