22nd Conference of The Union North America Region focuses on bringing innovation to community engagement and patient-centred care

The 22nd Annual Conference of The Union North America Region welcomed delegates to the first day of sessions on Thursday, 1 March 2018. Speakers from multilateral organisations, NGOs, academia and government shared experiences and research findings with a particular emphasis on community engagement and patient-centred care.

The George Comstock Lecture was given by Dr Philip Hopewell, Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and co-founder of the Curry International TB Center, who delivered a myth-busting presentation on TB prevalence surveys, entitled “All we know about TB is wrong”. His presentation suggested that TB is likely far more prevalent than had been estimated and called on all those involved to re-evaluate commonly held practices.

The Union Director of Research and Development Dr I.D. Rusen gave an update on the STREAM clinical trial and the unique challenges that have arisen with the publication of the preliminary results of Stage 1. He discussed considerations on how to clearly communicate complicated messages about trial results to community stakeholders in order to foster trust and encourage collaboration.

“Community engagement needs to be built into trial design from the outset – this must be built into budgets. As research sponsors, we need to ask for it, and donors need to provide it”, said Rusen.

Dr Gonzalo Alvarez of the University of Ottawa presented his work among the Inuit people in Nunavut, underlining the need to understand the geography, history and culture surrounding a community before undertaking research.

And Debra Daugherty, health communications expert with Stop TB USA, spoke about the importance of engaging with the media to disseminate TB control messages to a broad audience.

The conference is being held in Chicago, USA and continues through 3 March. The programme features speakers from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, including keynote speaker Dr Donald Wuebbles, who will discuss climate change as it relates to human health during the Beyond TB Lecture on 2 March. 

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