Video Message by Mrs. Peng Liyuan to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Fight Against Tuberculosis at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Dear friends, I am Peng Liyuan, the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for TB and HIV/AIDS. Congratulations on this High-Level Meeting, and greetings to you all!
I became China’s Ambassador for TB in 2007, and the Goodwill Ambassador in 2011. It is a mission and responsibility I cherish dearly. For more than ten years, every year on March 24th, I’ve visited communities with high TB prevalence to help raise awareness, change behavior and encourage actions.
This year, I went to Hubei in central China. I shared with teenage students important TB-related knowledge, and ways to lead a healthy lifestyle and taught young children the importance of good personal hygiene. In a local village, I met a fully-recovered patient. I encouraged him to become a TB campaigner himself, so that he can share his experience of fighting the disease with more people.
On this trip, I also attended a ceremony to recognize outstanding TB campaigners. Most of them work at the grassroots and have great stories to share.
Let me tell you about Shili. She is a community health worker from Sichuan. One of her many tasks is to look after local TB patients. When the massive earthquake struck Sichuan in 2008, her hometown was among the hardest-hit. Despite the damage, she managed to re-establish direct contact with every one of the 540 patients under her watch. She walked mile after mile amidst deadly aftershocks to reach her patients and she spent some 20 days delivering drugs to those cut off from medication. As a doctor, she knew too well the importance of completing the drug regimen for TB patients. Her efforts paid off. All the 540 patients had fully recovered, with no single patient developing into MDR. What an impressive achievement!
I also wish to thank the media and our active supporters. Together with more than 700,000 volunteers in China’s TB programs, we have helped promote awareness, provide valuable knowledge and improve understanding of TB to more than 75% of the population. Lives have been saved as a result.
I myself stand witness to the rapid progress of TB programs in China. Thanks to better medical service, we can offer more timely and effective diagnosis and treatment. In some areas, fighting TB is now an important part of the poverty reduction programs. Case detection rate increases, more patients are cured, and the incidence and mortality continue to drop.
When I visit foreign countries, I also try to make the local TB situation part of my agenda. I am so happy to see that more patients are getting the help they need. It is the united effort of governments, international organizations, NGOs, experts and volunteers that has made this possible.
However, daunting challenges remain. MDR is still a major threat. Limited ways of treatment and insufficient funding are still the problems we face globally.
The WHO has adopted the “End TB Strategy”. Now is the time to act.
I call upon all of you to join us.
Together, let us make a difference to the lives of millions affected, and stop tuberculosis.
I wish this meeting a great success.