June 2008: Tell the Senate: push the Lantos-Hyde Act (PEPFAR reauthorization) over the finish line.

The annual Group of Eight (G8) Summit of the world’s most economically and politically powerful countries — the U.S., Germany, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Russia, Italy, and Canada — will take place in Hokkaido, Japan, July 7–9. Global health is again on the G8 agenda, and the U.S. must provide leadership to ensure that the group takes action on tuberculosis. The U.S. should announce a new initiative to stop TB and challenge other wealthy countries to make matching commitments. If the U.S. fails to raise the issue this year, other G8 governments are likely to continue to neglect this urgent health crisis.

The U.S. chief negotiator for the G8 Summit (known as a “sherpa”) will help determine the agenda. Call on the U.S. Sherpa to announce a new U.S.-led initiative on TB at the G8 Summit! 

Sample Letter

Engage

As a member of RESULTS, a citizen advocacy organization committed to ending hunger and poverty, I am continually shocked by the slow progress toward reaching our 2000 G8 commitment to halt and reverse the spread of tuberculosis. TB takes the lives of more than 1.7 million people every year, and new drug-resistant strains threaten to make the disease even harder to detect and treat. This year the United States must fill the G8 leadership void on global TB.

Problem

(Choose 1–3 points to highlight in your letter)

  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a growing threat to human security. Cases of XDR-TB have now been reported in 45 countries, including all G8 nations. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in some sampled populations, XDR-TB has had fatality rates approaching 100 percent. Multi drug-resistant (MDR) TB and XDR-TB are a consequence of our collective failure to adequately address the TB epidemic.
  • Progress on past commitments on HIV/AIDS requires action on TB. Leaders of the G8 have wisely identified HIV/AIDS as a health crisis that impedes development, but few economic gains will be realized without the integration of TB and HIV programs. With TB as the leading killer of people with HIV in developing countries, the diagnosis, treatment, and research of these two diseases must be coordinated. The emergence of XDR-TB now threatens to reverse progress in the fight against AIDS.
  • Despite the Okinawa G8 commitment in 2000 to “reduce TB deaths and prevalence of the disease by 50 percent by 2010,” TB is the only infectious pandemic for which the U.S. lacks a major initiative.

Inform on Solution

The U.S. government is already investing significant resources in the fight against TB, both bilaterally and through the Global Fund, and funding will likely increase with the pending passage of the Lantos-Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act. However, our efforts to combat TB need greater focus and high-level political commitment. A new policy and funding initiative announced at the G8 Summit would solidify our commitment to fighting TB and challenge other G8 governments to follow suit.

Call to Action

The upcoming G8 Summit is a golden opportunity for the U.S. to showcase its current TB commitments and leverage support from other donors. The U.S should announce a new sustained effort to stop this disease and lead the G8 toward fulfilling a long-standing pledge to stop the global threat of TB.

Send your letter to: Deputy National Security Adviser Daniel Price, National Security Council, Old Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20500

G8 Must Step Up Efforts to Halt TB, TB-HIV and Drug-Resistant TB

At the turn of the millennium, the G8 took decisive action to combat the most deadly infectious killers of our time by creating the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Meeting in Okinawa in June of 2000, G8 leaders recognized that “diseases, most notably HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. . . . threaten to reverse decades of development and to rob an entire generation of hope for a better future.”  Despite the Okinawa G8 commitment to “reduce TB deaths and prevalence of the disease by 50 percent by 2010,” this target will not be met in Africa unless the international community takes dramatic and immediate action.

The U.S. Should Lead the G8 on Efforts to Fight TB

Largely resulting from grassroots RESULTS advocacy throughout the past decade, the U.S. is currently investing substantially to roll back the burden of TB. This effort includes bilateral assistance to stop TB, support for the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and programs to combat TB-HIV co-infection. Congress is poised to renew this effort with the passage of the Lantos-Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act. This legislation authorizes $4 billion over the next five years for TB, plus additional support for the Global Fund.

Given its current investments in TB control, the U.S. is in a strong position to announce a tuberculosis initiative at the G8 Summit. A new initiative announced on an important global stage would elevate the profile of TB and leverage commitments from other G8 governments.

A New U.S. TB Initiative

A U.S. TB initiative should focus on:

Securing and extending progress on AIDS through TB-HIV programming. TB and HIV/AIDS have converged into co-pandemics in many countries. HIV/AIDS is fueling TB’s spread, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, while TB is having an enormous and growing impact on HIV mortality and threatening the progress made in fighting HIV/AIDS, including through the U.S. investment to fight HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Fighting drug-resistant TB. The spread of XDR-TB is a growing threat to human security. Since 2006, cases have been reported in over 45 countries, including the U.S. and all G8 member countries. Investment in expanded laboratories and treatment programs along with research for new drugs and diagnostics is the only way to keep people around the world safe from drug-resistant TB.

Stopping TB in South/Southeast/Central Asia. Countries that are among the most geopolitically important to U.S. interests, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and others, are also among those with the highest burden of TB. The U.S. already provides billions in aid to these countries — a small piece of which, re-focused on TB (and not detracting from other health investments), could have huge economic and social impact.

Your Voice Must be Heard

Though RESULTS Educational Fund has briefed the G8 Sherpa (top civil servant on G8 matters) and National Security Council (NSC) Director of G8 Affairs on leveraging this strategic opportunity to declare a TB initiative at the G8 summit, the G8 Sherpa needs to hear directly from you — the very U.S. constituents to whom he’s accountable.