FILE PHOTO: Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping. REUTERS/ Denis Balibouse
Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan called for a global effort to eradicate the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic on Wednesday as she addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) High-Level Meeting on the Fight to End Tuberculosis via video while also explaining at length China’s endeavor to combat the disease.
Peng, who was appointed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goodwill ambassador for TB and HIV/AIDS in 2011, shared her thoughts and experiences with the attendees of the meeting, which took place at the UN headquarters in New York City. She also shared the touching stories of unsung heroes in China who have been selflessly dedicated to the cause of combating TB.
The first lady, who is also China’s national ambassador for TB control and prevention, said that the control and prevention of the disease in China has made rapid progress, and its victims are being diagnosed and treated in a more timely and effective manner.
Such progress has been made, she pointed out, because of the great importance the Chinese government and the entire society has attached to the cause, as well as the enthusiastic participation of about 700,000 volunteers.
In some parts of China, TB prevention has become one of the key tasks in the government’s poverty alleviation program, said Peng.
Now, China has seen continuous increases of case detection and cure rates for TB and decreases in morbidity and mortality, as many TB victims in the country have had their lives renewed, said Peng, adding that the awareness rate of TB control and prevention knowledge has reached over 75 percent in China.
Thanks to the joint efforts by governments, international organizations, NGOs, specialists and volunteers, the control and prevention of the tuberculosis epidemic at the global level has scored significant achievements, but mankind still faces severe challenges in this aspect, said Peng.
The WHO has adopted the End TB Strategy, she said, urging all countries in the world to join hands and do their best to change the lives of the millions of people who are affected by TB and end the global epidemic.
The high-level meeting was chaired by Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. A political declaration on the control and prevention of TB was endorsed at the meeting.
In interviews after the meeting, attendees said that Peng’s speech was very impressive. Attendees also said they really appreciated China’s achievements in the fight against tuberculosis, as well as the country’s support and contribution to the global fight against TB.
“As WHO goodwill ambassador on TB and HIV/AIDS, the first lady is doing a lot within her country to raise awareness about the problem, to encourage, to provide necessary treatment to these people, and, of course, it demonstrates a very good example,” said Teresa Kasaeva, WHO Global TB Program Director.
“I saw very well the things that she highlighted, and I know the efforts that are happening in China. I want to say to China to support as well TB programs in the world,” said Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership.
“In the future, we hope that China can achieve the goal of eliminating TB by 2030 and keep TB under control at a very low level. We hope China can continue to make more efforts and contribute to the global community,” said Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. — Reuters