Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino of Japan, and Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of The Netherlands both attended the 7th President’s Centennial Dinner on Tuesday 23 October, in the Ridderzaal, Hall of Knights; a beautiful thirteenth century banqueting hall at the heart of The Hague’s parliamentary complex.
After welcoming guests, Union President Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa offered The Union’s thanks for the patronage of the Honourable Minister Bruno Bruins, Minister for Medical Care and Sport, The Netherlands who secured this historic venue for the evening.
Minister Bruins spoke of the pressing need to address multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), and more broadly antimicrobial resistance, urging guests to work “in close cooperation and with resilient health systems to counter global and interdependent threats like TB, HIV and antimicrobial resistance.” Minister Bruins announced that next year, together with the World Health Organization, The Netherlands will host the second Global Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Executive Director José Luis Castro began with thanks to the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation for their support in organising the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health, saying “KNCV is such a vital institution, and they have been a close partner of The Union’s for almost a century.”
“For us, science has always been—and science will always be—a light that illuminates a path out of that suffering and helps people to fulfill their whole human potential.” He said, highlighting the special nature of The Union, which works in holistic way to unite people to end TB.
Moving the focus of the evening toward the future of TB prevention, Dr Chakaya spoke about the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on TB, where countries from around the world made a Political Declaration on the Fight to End TB. Drawing on the theme of this year’s Union World Conference, he said “We all know that the UN High Level-Meeting was not an end in itself. It was simply a means to advance the political and the social solutions we need to end TB.
“Whether we advance those solutions is now up to us. The real effort lies ahead… And I am more hopeful than I have ever been, because I see the greatest opportunity that I have ever seen.”
In her closing remarks, Kitty van Weezenbeek, Executive Director of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, praised the nearly hundred year partnership between her KNCV and The Union. She shared her hope that this is “the last time KNCV will co-host the Union World Conference. Having co-hosted three times in 86 years, if we keep the same frequency it is our turn again in about 30 years. I want to believe that we will have dealt with TB by then.”
The President’s Centennial Dinner is part of The Union’s Centennial Campaign, in the build up to the organisation’s centennial year in 2020. The campaign will support The Union’s next century of work — to combat some of the world’s biggest killers including TB, HIV and tobacco use.