PM speaks on country’s actions to combat tuberculosis

September 27, 2018

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has told his counterparts at the United Nations that his government is convinced that the tuberculosis global response and action being mounted by the United Nations is timely and necessary.

“The paradigm shift that changes the way we treat TB at every level—in every community, in every health facility in every country—and focus on a scaling-up of prevention and care services, is needed,” the country’s leader told his colleagues at the General Assembly High level Meeting on TB,” he said.

Prime Minister Browne’s statement at the High Level Meeting:

Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates:

Antigua and Barbuda is pleased to join this significant high-level meeting themed: United to end tuberculosis: An urgent global response to a global epidemic.

My participation here today is to signal a high level of commitment to this initiative.

We recognize that despite advances in medical technologies, tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide and is a serious threat to global health security.

Antigua and Barbuda can be described as a country with a low burden of TB disease, averaging three cases annually. This is due to our strong health care system evidenced by the country’s verification by the World Health Organization of the Elimination of the Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis last year. It is also due to our commitment to prevention, early diagnosis and guaranteed treatment according to regularly updated guidelines.

All TB services are provided free of cost to all patients and their contacts. In order to improve disease management, we recently acquired a Gene Xpert technology that facilitates rapid TB diagnosis and resistance testing. This advancement is a result of the functional cooperation among the member states of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, an economic union comprising ten island-countries in my sub-region.

My government is also addressing TB’s underlying determinants including undernutrition, poverty, diabetes, smoking and HIV. This year we enacted our Tobacco Control Bill, congruent with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

We are implementing a Non-communicable Disease Action Plan and are moving towards achieving UNAIDS’ 90 90 90 targets for HIV. Our urban development plan includes providing affordable housing to those who are most vulnerable, ensuring safe water and improving sanitation. We are also scaling-up interventions for the most-at-risk populations such as those in our reform institutions.

My government is convinced that this global response and action is timely and necessary. The paradigm shift that changes the way we treat TB at every level—in every community, in every health facility in every country—and focus on a scaling-up of prevention and care services, is needed.

We call on countries to follow the World Health Organization’s End TB Strategy and the Global Plan to end TB 2016 to 2020, the ideal roadmap to accelerating the impact of the epidemic. More importantly, at the global level, we call on the international community to exceed the US$ 1.4 billion annual funding gap for TB Interventions and the additional US$ 1.3 billion for research. Only then with adequate funding can we guarantee an end to TB by 2030.

I thank you, Excellencies, for allowing this important gathering to take place today, and to hear from Antigua and Barbuda.