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Union Conference tackles how to advance post-UNHLM advocacy and accountability framework

The 49th Union Conference on Lung Health held in The Hague, the Netherlands, October 24-27, marked the first major gathering of advocates following the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis at the United Nation’s General Assembly in July.

Along with allies like the Global TB Caucus and International Civil Society Support, ACTION Global Healthy Advocacy Partnership used the conference to engage advocates, affected communities, and 35 MPs from more than 18 countries on strategies to achieve the targets agreed upon in the UN Political Declaration on TB.

Mandy Slutsker, Policy and Advocacy Manager from the ACTION Secretariat and Janika Hauser from RESULTS UK led a workshop on MP engagement for 45 civil society advocates and affected communities, sharing strategies for engaging elected officials on TB and how to work with them as partners. This include educating attendees on the RESULTS Champion Scale, a tool for advocates to take a policymaker from “zero to hero” by assessing where they stand on an issue, developing strategies to engage them, tracking learning, and celebrating progress.

Participants got a chance to put their training to the test later when they met MPs from their country and/or region to discuss plans for achieving the goal of finding and treating everyone with TB. The highlight from this session was the meeting between Michael Miiro — a TB, HIV, and disability advocate from Uganda — and MPs from Uganda to discuss ways to improve access to TB and HIV care for people with disabilities.

In addition to bringing civil society and affected communities together with policymakers, ACTION used the Union Conference to launch a new accountability tool, “Where Are the Missing Millions?

The World Health Organization in its 2017 report says an estimated 10 million people was sick with TB in 2017. However, countries reported diagnosing just 6.4 million. This means the quality of care of 3.6 million is unknown.

ACTION's message across its many touch points at the Union highlighted the importance of finding, diagnosing, and treating all people with TB that health systems missed, one of the key targets of the UN Political Declaration on TB.