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 Opening Session of the Global TB Caucus Parliamentary Consultation on the UN High-Level Meeting

(As delivered)

Excellencies and everyone,
Thank you very much for allowing me to join you today. I, along with my colleague and friend Aubrey Webson, Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda, will be working together to try to make the High-Level Meeting as an important and impactful meeting as possible, and we are very gratified about the confidence that the President of the General Assembly has shown to us. He has chosen us to do this work for us all at the General Assembly, and we hope that we can meet up to his expectations.
The purpose of the General Assembly High-level Meeting on TB is to secure the highest level political attention that the TB and TB community has long deserved but has not received, and it is truly encouraging that we see the momentum already building up by the parliamentary leaders, whose role is critical to ending TB. And I would like to take a little time in explaining where we are in our preparations for the HLM.
First of all, I am happy to report to you that the modalities resolution on the HLM was adopted by the General Assembly in April and according to this resolution, the High-Level Meeting will be held on the 26th of September. Now, this stage is very important because it is the second day of the General Debate of the General Assembly, which means many heads of states and heads of governments will be there. So we are hoping we get the highest level of attendance, and the theme of the High-Level Meeting, as we agreed on, is “United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic”. The word “united” is the key word obviously, and as Sierra was explaining to us it is important to leave no one behind. And in order to do that, the meeting will consist of not only a plenary, but two multi-stakeholder panels. And as we wish to receive full input from the people concerned, non-governmental actors, there will be an interactive civil society hearing on the 4th of June, as the President of the General Assembly already mentioned today, and the input from this civil society get together, and the input we will be getting from you today and tomorrow, we hope that the Member States of the United Nations will be able to agree on an outcome document to be agreed upon and adopted in the HLM. We hope that this outcome document will be concise but action-oriented political declaration, and that it will have a real impact on ensuring the end of TB by 2030.
The good news is that we do not have to reinvent the wheel. We have the Moscow Ministerial Declaration already, and there have been further discussions at the End TB Summit in Delhi. So I’m sure your meeting today and tomorrow will inform us 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. Also, we need to keep working and one way of doing 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 related processes, including the HLM on NCDs, Non-communicable diseases, that will be taking place the day after the TB meeting. And there will be a HLM on the Universal Health Coverage in 2019 and this as you know is a very important meeting related to TB. So taking these together, we hope that we can reinforce health-related achievements in a holistic manner.
Finally, if I may shortly touch upon the Japanese experience. The Hon. Toshiko Abe will be representing the Stop TB Partnership Promotion Parliamentary Federation of Japan, and I’m sure she’ll be touching upon the Japanese experience but if I may mention just a few words. Japan was suffering greatly from TB ourselves. Up until the 1950s, TB was the biggest killer in Japan. But through the universal health coverage system and other efforts, involving public and private partners, we have managed to dramatically reduce our TB burden, although we are going the final inch of becoming a low TB burden country by 2020. We are still not a low TB burden country, but at the same time, Japan is now one of the largest contributors to the world-wide TB response. So with this on-going experience as a background, we are really excited to be part of the process towards this once in a lifetime opportunity to turn the global TB epidemic around.
This meeting of the TB Global Caucus will certainly provide critical input towards the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB and I wish you everyone, parliamentarians, the related organizations, every success.
Thank you very much indeed.