From marches, to trainings and networking, to an unprecedented Zero TB declaration, civil society advocates were heard loud and clear at this year's Union Conference on Lung Health in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The energetic week kicked off at the Union’s opening ceremony, where 100 activists carrying placards emblazoned with such calls to action as “50% won’t cut it” landed after marching through the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Many of the signs expressed outrage at the draft post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets for TB, which are calling for a 50% reduction in TB deaths by 2025. But this target would still leave 600,000 people dying every year.
The groups demands included more ambitious targets for stopping TB, increased funding to meet those targets, and an end to the use of harmful language – such as ‘suspect’ and ‘defaulter’ - in the TB community.
An Advocacy Hub
The Advocacy Corner – hosted by ACTION, TB Alert, and the STOP TB Partnership – became a hub for this momentum to build and solidify throughout the conference. At the Corner, the Union’s civil society advocates met to learn, collaborate, and strategize their collective action at the conference.
Global and national TB advocates also lead scheduled debates and discussions throughout the week. For instance, former TB patients shared best practices on community engagement, and ACTION hosted a workshop to discuss how researchers can use advocacy to take their research farther and turn their work into action.
Civil Society Declaration
Momentum at the conference built to the closing ceremonies, where activists from around the world called for zero TB deaths in the first ever civil society declaration on tuberculosis, presented to Union delegates.
Drafted by civil society advocates, The Kuala Lumpur Declaration on TB Civil Society Participation spells out the values, principles, and demands that will guide advocacy efforts towards the ultimate goal of zero TB deaths and zero new TB infections.
The document was also presented to the boards of the Union and the Stop TB Partnership at their meetings this weekend.