Welcome remarks by UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director, Bakhodir Burkhanov, at the 8th TB Control Meeting for Pacific Islands

Nov 22, 2016

Representatives of Governments and Ministries of Health in the Pacific

Members from academia

Technical partner agencies

Colleagues from the sister UN agencies and development partners

Ladies and gentlemen:

It is my great honor to address the opening session of the Eighth TB Control Meeting for the Pacific Islands. This meeting is a partnership between the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Ministry of Health and Medical Services of Fiji, and our technical partners. 

UNDP’s commitment to tackling major health challenges is based on the principles that health is both a driver and outcome of development, and that actions across a wide range of development sectors have significant impact on health outcomes. As such, our work in HIV and Health is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, also known as Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs).

The SDGs build on the unfinished MDGs with a broader scope, more ambitious targets and interlinkages within and across goals. They cover three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – and are “universal, indivisible and interlinked”. The interdependence between health and development is clearly recognized in the SDG framework. Goal 3 specifically mentions TB alongside HIV/AIDS and malaria. Translated into numerical targets, it states that, by 2030, TB incidence and death rates should be reduced by 80% and 90%, respectively. This is a substantial shift in ambition level compared to the MDG era.

The SDGs provide opportunities to address TB risk factors and common health system bottlenecks through addressing various determinants of TB, support for universal health coverage; access to quality care and essential medicines, and reducing inequality within and among countries, among other goals.

As a development organization, UNDP focuses on addressing social, economic and environmental determinants of health that are responsible for health inequalities. UNDP’s work in health falls within three inter-connected areas of action, namely: 

  • Reducing inequalities and social exclusion that drive HIV and affect health;
  • Promoting effective and inclusive governance for health; and
  • Building resilient and sustainable systems for health.

Resilience building is a key element of our work in countries as interim Principal Recipient of funding from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.  UNDP provides implementation support services that are complemented by longer-term capacity building that includes strengthening financial and risk management, procurement systems for health commodities, monitoring and evaluation, training and health governance mechanisms, as well as support for civil society organizations and additional resource mobilization.

The WHO's new ‘End TB Strategy 2016-2035’ frames the global fight against TB as a development, social justice and human rights issue, while re-emphasizing the public health and clinical fundamentals of TB care and prevention.  Echoing the global approach, the Regional Framework for Action on the ‘End TB Strategy in the Western Pacific’ covers 2016-2020 and calls for building strong national systems for TB prevention and care through whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches.

Pacific island countries and territories have specific challenges in terms of TB control and universal access to quality care for all people, especially high-risk and vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, people in underprivileged and remote island communities, and people with co-morbidities, particularly HIV and diabetes.

Against this backdrop, our meeting today comes after 17 months of implementation of the the Western Pacific Integrated HIV/TB Programme that is funded by the Global Fund and managed by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. 

The objectives of our meeting are three-fold:

  • First, to review the progress of TB control since the last Pacific TB meeting and to identify the challenges for strengthening TB control in the region;
  • Second, to discuss ways Pacific island countries and territories can adapt and implement the Regional Framework for Action on Implementation of the ‘End TB Strategy in the Western Pacific’; and
  • Third, to identify priority actions required at the regional and national levels to facilitate the implementation the regional framework with a focus on people-centered care, universal health coverage, social protection, and cross-country cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen:

In conclusion, let me reiterate that TB prevention, care and control will both benefit from and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The task of TB elimination is challenging but achievable. It requires coordinated implementation of appropriate interventions across sectors and geographic areas in a manner that sustainably addressed the underlying drivers of TB.

Simply put, ending TB epidemic requires partnerships across sectors and institutions. All of the stakeholders around the table have a role to play. This meeting is therefore seen as a platform to strengthen coordination and complementarities between all stakeholders providing technical and financial support for TB control in the Pacific.

There is so much that countries and organizations can learn from each other. I hope this meeting provides a good opportunity for networking, exchange of know-how and innovation.

I thank you for your attention and wish you fruitful deliberations this week.

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