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  • Writer's pictureMatt Oliver

Thursday Thought: CGH at the UN Multistakeholder Hearings

In place of this week's Thursday Thought, we wanted to share our intervention during the recent UN Multistakeholder Hearing on PPPR. It's a quick watch, no longer than the time it takes to eat a couple of biscuits.

Around this time last week, the UN General Assembly was hosting multi-stakeholder hearings to inform this autumn's UN High-Level Meetings on tuberculosis, universal health coverage and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. One of CGH's Directors, Janika, participated in the hearings and was invited to speak about our recent report - Ready Next Time.

With so many SDG-related processes at the UN this year, it's important to remember that these agendas aren't competing. Fundamentally, it's about getting better, more responsive and resilient health services to everyone, everywhere. So how can we get better at joining the dots?

A full transcript of our intervention is below.

"Your Excellencies

The last three years have taught us that if you cannot detect and respond to one of the most prevalent respiratory infections, you cannot dream of detecting and responding to a novel one.

Our failure to recognise this fact has resulted in millions of avoidable deaths from COVID-19, and has also prompted the first increase in incidence and mortality from tuberculosis in over a decade. TB has now reclaimed the un-enviable title of the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

Historically, political focus on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response has followed a tragic boom and bust cycle as leaders shift focus to health threats felt by their citizens in the here and now. But this dichotomy is flawed.

To break the cycle, Member States must leverage the intersection to prevent, detect and respond to novel outbreaks AND to accelerate the response to already prevalent public health threats.

These include, but are not limited to, diagnostic networks, surveillance systems, strengthened infection prevention and control, an expanded workforce with competencies in managing respiratory infections, including at the community level, community-led service delivery, as well as research and development and medical supply chain strengthening.

We know that respiratory pathogens pose the greatest pandemic threat because of the speed with which they spread. Many of the systems built for TB were core to the COVID-19 response, but remain insufficient to end TB let alone to prevent and respond to future respiratory pandemics.

The political declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on PPPR must therefore explicitly recognise these intersections, particularly with efforts to end TB, and commit member states to prioritise these within national policy and investment frameworks, with appropriate surge plans in place to protect core services during an outbreak.

Crucially, accountability mechanisms for pandemics must also reflect these intersections and ensure much stronger engagement of civil society to ensure leaders genuinely deliver on and never lose sight of this dual return on investment.

Thank you."

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