I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly,
Japan, and Antigua and Barbuda for their leadership on bringing
us together for the Political Declaration. This is a moment for us all
to collectively step up our commitment to ending tuberculosis (TB).
The UK has been, and will continue to be, a major driver in the
development and deployment of the new technologies, diagnostics
and treatments we believe are crucial to fight TB and the scourge
of Multi Drug-Resistant TB.
But we all know that ending this disease also requires tackling
poverty, weak health systems and HIV, particularly in Africa.
Without innovation and fresh approaches, we have little chance of
meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal on ending the
TB epidemic. On current rates of progress it won’t be for at least
another 150 years.
But scientific advances give us hope that we can achieve that goal.
And I can today inform you that a global team lead by the
University of Oxford has made a major breakthrough in our
understanding of TB’s genetic code. This study is being published
today in the New England Journal of Medicine, and I can tell you is
that it promises a paradigm shift in the way we treat TB.
For the first time we can start to develop tailored therapies to treat
TB patients based on their DNA profile. Where at the moment, in
many countries we rely on a “best guess” for the right treatment,
this breakthrough means we have the potential to give the correct
drugs more rapidly to more patients. It presents us with the
opportunity to improve cure rates and help stop the spread of
resistant strains. And it signals a new era in TB diagnostics after
70 years of relying on slow bacterial culture to determine which
drugs are best suited to a patient’s infection.
This is an excellent example of what the UK, in partnership with
global research networks, can offer in the fight against TB.
I can also announce today that £7.5 million of UK aid will go to the
TB Alliance to help develop three new TB drugs, which offer the
prospect of more effective and quicker-acting treatments for the
millions of people affected by drug-sensitive or drug-resistant TB
each year. This is in addition to our current, extensive research
We were the second largest donor to the last replenishment of the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, which provides the
bulk of international funding to fight TB in low and lower-middle
income countries where the incidence and mortality of TB is
highest. Finally, and critically, we are the second largest donor and
research leader in this area, behind only the US.
While fresh commitments and additional funding are essential, we
must also ensure we draw on the best of what each of us have to
offer. And that collaboration and partnership are embedded in
everything we do to bring an end to this cruel disease.
Today, we have seen a political declaration that signals a step-
change in the international leadership and commitments necessary to drive progress on fighting TB.
We hope that it will lead to increased investment and co-ordination
in TB research and development, greater progress in preventing
infections, and improved care for patients particularly those in the
These are our priorities. I look forward to hearing yours and how
we can work together to end TB once and for all.