United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C, Front) addresses a civil society hearing on tuberculosis at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on June 4, 2018. Monday's hearing was held in preparation of the first-ever high-level meeting on the fight against TB set for Sept. 26. Heads of state are expected to gather at the UN General Assembly for the event. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, June 4 (Xinhua) -- President of the UN General Assembly Misrolav Lajcak said Monday that more action is needed to ensure the Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic is ended by 2030, a deadline set by the UN.
Speaking at a civil society hearing on TB, Lajcak said, "We are not on track to meet this SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) target," adding the pace of progress has been too slow and global action and investment are far from enough.
He noted newer challenges, such as "multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis", are a threat and the funding gap in developing countries amounts to some 2.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2017.
Currently, some 14 million people are living with TB worldwide, 4 million of them unidentified, according to UN special envoy on the disease Eric Goosby, who also spoke at the hearing.
Goosby stressed the need to accelerate efforts, saying that at the current pace of diagnosis, treatment and research development, "we are not capable of breaking the transmission chain."
Though treatable and curable, TB kills more than 4,500 people daily and around half of the cases are undiagnosed, said Lajcak, noting that by estimate, the disease will cost the global economy about 1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030.
Monday's hearing was held in preparation of the first-ever high-level meeting on the fight against TB set for Sept. 26. Heads of state are expected to gather at the UN General Assembly for the event.
It follows on from a ministerial conference on ending TB in Moscow last November, which resulted in commitments from ministers and other leaders from some 120 countries.
"We should not miss this historic opportunity," said Lajcak, in reference to the upcoming meeting, urging participants to galvanize global momentum to end TB.
Echoing this, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made remarks after Lajcak, said the high-level meeting provides key opportunities. "Let us use these meetings as an opportunity to inform a new way of thinking and working, lifting TB beyond its traditional silo."
The UN chief urged the outcome document from the meeting to be concrete and ambitious in its recommendations to ensure "global rhetoric is translated to local actions in communities."