We were delighted that the LSHTM TB Centre was recognised as a leading academic group working on TB in the UK, and was among the few UK organisations invited to attend the UN High Level Meeting on TB. There were approximately 300 places allocated to academic institutions, funders and civil society organisations to witness heads of states and ministers from around the world gathering to reaffirm their commitments to fighting TB. Mishal Khan and Liz Corbett represented the LSHTM TB Centre.
A resounding declaration at the meeting was that global efforts so far have been inadequate. However concerns were raised immediately about how to hold stakeholders to their commitments. Below our some of reflections following the meeting, and these have been incorporated into a joint statement by the UK academics attending the meeting.
- The TB research community must situate their work within wider efforts to strengthen health systems and engage with the multifaceted risk factors for TB, including poverty, migration and food insecurity.
- While more research funding is urgently needed, there is also a critical need to develop a clear strategy for prioritising research areas, with research priorities driven by stakeholders that have a deep understanding of the situation in high-TB burden countries, including patients, health professionals and civil society organisations in high-TB burden countries.
- Policymakers and funders are now primed to act on TB. Researchers must do better at engaging with policymakers, including not only better communication of research but also taking into account information that policymakers need when designing studies.
- The multi-sectoral accountability framework will be critical in tracking progress against the end TB targets. Researchers with expertise in monitoring and evaluation and accountability should contribute to ensuring that the bold commitments made are upheld.