United Nations member states agreed on 14 September on a global plan to step up the fight against tuberculosis, the world's leading cause of death in infectious diseases, and a dispute with the United States over access to cheap drugs. After weeks of tough negotiations, the text of a final declaration has been approved and will be formally adopted at the first TB summit meeting on 26 September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In July, there were conflicts in South Africa with the United States over proposals to dilute the language by recognizing the right of poorer countries to access cheaper medicines. The language under attack related to the so-called TRIPS trade agreements dealing with intellectual property rights. A compromise was reached that reinforced the reference to TRIPS. The medical charity MSF had supported South Africa's stance and urged countries to oppose what it called the "aggressive approach" of the US pharmaceutical lobby to restrict access to low-cost medicines.

Protection of public health

At the summit, leaders will commit to ending the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030 and providing $ 13 billion per annum to reach that goal, following the 53-point final declaration. Another $ 2 billion will be spent on funding tuberculosis research around the world, compared to $ 700 million currently.

Sharonann Lynch, the MSF policy advisor, said the final statement was an improvement on the first draft, but added that world leaders would have to appear at the summit. "Heads of state must emerge from the United Nations High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis and assert their public health rights over the profits of pharmaceutical companies and expand effective and affordable generic versions of expensive patented drug-resistant tuberculosis drugs," Lynch said.

Last year, the World Health Organization raised the alarm by saying that tuberculosis has overtaken HIV / AIDS as the world's largest infectious killer and is the ninth cause of death worldwide. In 2016, approximately 1.7 million people died from tuberculosis in 2016 by 10.4 million people suffering from severe lung infection, according to the WHO. Five countries are the most affected by the TB pandemic: India, which accounts for a quarter of cases, Indonesia, China, the Philippines and Pakistan.



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