The 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health in The Hague, was distinguished by both emerging science and the urgent political commitments driven by the recent United Nations High-Level Meeting on tuberculosis (TB) in New York. Delegates from around the world attended the four-day scientific programme of plenaries, symposia and abstracts presented by global experts.
Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, President of the Union, closed the conference saying, “With the UN General Assembly approving the first-ever Political Declaration on the Fight Against tuberculosis, we have never been in a moment like this, where TB has such a prominent place on the global agenda. I have been inspired to see how people want to help turn the promises we have heard into action.
“It was a huge honour that Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino of Japan and Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands attended our Union World Conference. Both play crucial roles as leaders in our journey to end TB, leaders that we need more than ever to garner momentum from the High-Level Meeting.
“At the opening session we heard from Dr Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis, who said “We must remember that TB is preventable, treatable and curable. Now let’s make it doable.
“As a community, our job is now to ensure those global commitments within the political declaration lead to action at the national and local levels. It is all of us who can hold leaders accountable to fulfilling their promises to treat 40 million people for TB, to provide preventive therapy for 30 million people, to close the funding gaps for TB care and TB research.
“It is up to us. The Union has always been a body of people who use science to take action to solve big challenges. That is what makes the Union World Conference so important. This conference is a platform where we bring science, communications and advocacy together, helping us to institute the change we need to end TB.”
This year the conference welcomed more than 4,000 delegates and nearly 100 journalists. The start of the week also welcomed the Global TB Caucus and ministerial delegates from more than 20 countries.
904 presentations, 524 posters and an astonishing 308 sessions delivered over four days.
The community space hosted a vibrant programme with more than 40 sessions and activities, including panel discussions, skill building workshops, networking and participatory sessions where community activists, scientists, students and civil society came together to discuss solutions to improve lung health.
Which has resulted in this being the largest ever Union World Conference.
During the ceremony the audience also heard from Oxana Rucsineanu, who successfully completed three years of treatment for MDR-TB in 2010. Oxana talked about the importance to invest in new tools to improve treatment and new drugs that are accessible to everyone. Oxana finished by reminding the crowd ‘TB is curable’.
The Union World Conference is a uniting force. It unites people from around the world to work together towards our shared goals.
Dr Chakaya said “I would like to thank all those who have participated in this crucial conversation. It has been a remarkable week. I would like to show my gratitude to the volunteers who have supported us this week.
“I would like to acknowledge the work of the Coordinating Committee of Scientific Activities who have brought such a fantastic programme to the conference this week.
“I must also thank our local hosts, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and the City of The Hague for their wonderful support over the last 12 months.”
Dr Kitty Van Weezenbeek, Executive Director, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation acknowledged the long standing partnership between KNCV and The Union and thanked the audience for a fantastic, busy and exciting conference in The Hague. In her presentation she welcomed Dr. Yogan Pillay and Dr. Wang Lixia to the stage as she awarded the KNCV Award 2018 and the Dr. Karel Styblo medallion.
Dr Chakaya concluded the closing ceremony saying “This conference has seen TB and lung health at a crossroads. The conversations this week help ensure that the next important step in the fight for lung health is driven by the rights of the individual, the right to health.”
As the doors close on the 49th Union World Conference, the 50th Union World Conference which will be held in Hyderabad, India, from 30 October to 2 November, is officially announced. Local hosts, Mr Mangal Pandey, Health Minister of the Indian state of Bihar and Jayesh Ranjàn said “Hyderabad will be a great host for the next conference, we look forward to personally welcoming you next year.”