Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, Co-facilitator for the UNGA High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis, at the World TB Day luncheon and Mission Briefing

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Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

            At the outset, I would like to thank the organizers, co-sponsors, and key partners gathered here today for making this World TB Day event possible. On behalf of the co-facilitators of the UNGA High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis, namely my colleague Ambassador Aubrey Webson of the Antigua and Barbuda and myself, I would like to touch upon three points on where we are and the next steps.
            First of all, I am happy to report to you that the modalities resolution on the HLM was agreed in principle after constructive discussions among the Member States.  The high-level meeting will be held on 26 September to ensure the highest level attendance on the theme of “United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic”. The meeting consists of the plenary and two multi-stakeholder panels. There will be an interactive civil society hearing, perhaps around June, leading up to the HLM in September. We hope to adopt a concise and action-oriented political declaration.
            Secondly, now that we have agreed on logistics, we must shift gear towards agreeing on the outcome document. The good news is that we do not have to reinvent the wheel. We have the Moscow Ministerial Declaration. There have been further discussions at the End TB Summit in Delhi. What I ask you is to guide the co-facilitators through the HLM on how to add value to previous agreements and how to elevate the political commitment to the highest level. Equally important is how not to make the HLM a one-off event. This might be done by establishing an accountability mechanism that leaders would want to follow through 2030. It would also be useful to bear in mind relevant processes including the HLM on NCDs this year and the HLM on UHC in 2019. Taking them together, we would be able to reinforce health related achievements in a holistic manner.
              Finally, allow me to share with you Japan’s experience. TB used to be a number-one killer in Japan until the 1950s. But through our universal health coverage system involving public and private partners to ensure universal access to quality and affordable care, we managed to dramatically reduce deaths through TB. Japan is now one of the largest contributors to world-wide TB response, including bilateral assistance as well as through WHO and the Global Fund. However, my country is still struggling to go the final inch of becoming a low TB burden country due to fading public awareness, an ageing population among other factors. In a way, we represent both the successes and the challenges of TB response. That is the reason why we are really excited to be part of the process towards this once in a generation opportunity to turn the global TB epidemic around.
              I trust today’s briefing will serve as a springboard toward an impactful UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB. As co-facilitators, we stand ready to seize the opportunity to end TB and leaving no one behind.
Thank you.