International TB experts gather for the first time in 1867 to share strategies for fighting “the White Plague” – tuberculosis.
Prof Robert Koch of Berlin identifies Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the cause of TB in 1882.
In 1902, the Central Bureau for the Prevention of Tuberculosis is established in Berlin and adopts the Cross of Lorraine as its symbol. WWI forces its closure.
At the first post-war conference, held in Paris in 1920, 31 nations founded the International Union Against Tuberculosis (IUAT).
Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin, active IUAT members, develop the BCG vaccine against TB first used in humans in 1921.
10 international conferences are held between 1920 and 1939 focus on the fundamental, biological, clinical and social aspects of TB. WWII suspends activities.
The discovery of streptomycin in 1943 and the founding of the World Health Organization in 1946 bring powerful new partners to the fight against TB. The IUAT is the first NGO to be officially recognised by WHO.
IUAT members at work: In Scotland, Sir John Crofton treats TB with a combination of antibiotics, making it curable for the first time. In India, Dr Wallace Fox proves that TB patients can be treated at home.
The IUAT plays a central role in international clinical trials to determine the best ways to use the new tools for TB treatment and co-founds the TB Surveillance Research Unit.
Through its Extended and Mutual Assistance Programmes, The Union urges stakeholders to become involved in TB control and affluent members provide expertise to developing countries.
The burden of TB shifts to low- and middle-income countries. The Union develops a multi-faceted TB control model based on government commitment, diagnosis by microscopy, standardized treatment, uninterrupted drug supplies and recording/reporting of outcomes.
Nine high-burden, low-income countries pilot the strategy, which proves both effective and cost-effective, but the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic creates a new crisis.
WHO declares a global TB emergency and brands The Union model “DOTS” – directly observed treatment, short course. The Union provides TB technical assistance to more than 40 courses each year and expands focus to include asthma, child lung health and tobacco control.
The Union decentralises, opening offices in all 7 regions to be closer to members and the people served. The Board adopts a new vision “Health solutions for the poor” and major programmes focus on TB-HIV, tobacco control and operational research.
Under WHO's Stop TB Strategy, which drew heavily on The Union model (DOTS), an estimated 43 million lives were saved between 2000 and 2014. In 2015, the next phase – the End TB Strategy – was launched.
The Union Centennial Campaign will culminate in this 100th year of The Union.