UN Multi-stakeholder Meetings Marred by Complaints About Lack of Consultation
TB activists attend a community assembly in New York’s Battery Park to call for more investment in TB vaccines and treatments.

The United Nations (UN) is hosting three multi-stakeholder meetings in New York on Monday and Tuesday on tuberculosis, pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPPR) and universal health coverage (UHC).

They are aimed at getting the views of non-state actors in preparation for UN High-Level meetings in September, starting with pandemic preparedness on 20 September, followed by UHC, then TB on consecutive days.

On Sunday, a community assembly was held in New York’s Battery Park to call for more investment in TB, the second-biggest infectious disease killer after COVID-19. It included the public reading of the TB vaccine R&D investment open letter signed by almost 1200 individuals and organisations around the world.

“We have seen before that investing in averting TB deaths can bring significant economic benefits! Every dollar invested in this effort returns an average of $43 dollars, making it a smart and impactful investment for communities and economies alike,” said Kate O’Brien from We are TB USA.

“We need new TB vaccines to end TB, mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the global TB response, and control the spread of drug-resistant TB, a key driver of antimicrobial resistance. Yet, the only available TB vaccine is the century-old Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) which is largely ineffective in adolescents and adults,” said Keyuri Bhanushali, a TB survivor and activist from Mumbai, India.

“Let’s invest in TB vaccine R&D to finally put an end to this devastating pandemic.”

Lack of consultation over pandemic and UHC meetings

However, some civil society participants told Health Policy Watch that there had been little consultation about participation, particularly in relation to the pandemic and UHC meetings, including over speakers on the panels and the procedures to be followed.

Many organisations had invested in bringing affected people from other parts of the world to the UN meetings yet they were unsure of whether they would be able to speak from the floor. In addition, they questioned why organisations’ statements would be loaded onto the website of the World Health Organization (WHO), not that of the UN.

In response, Paulina Kubiak, spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly (PGA), told Health Policy Watch that there had been “an open registration process on the UN Indico website for stakeholders to participate in the multi-stakeholder hearings”, with registration open from 2 March to 7 April. 

“The panellists were selected in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly which require the PGA to organize the multi-stakeholder hearings with the support of the WHO and other relevant partners (Stop TB Partnership in the case of TB and UHC2030 in case of UHC),” said Kubiak.

“Written statements can be submitted by participants until May 15 and will be available on the WHO website in due course (pending the volume of submissions).”

The meetings are being broadcast live on the UN webTV:

Image Credits: UN Photo/Manuel Elias.

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