The 18th Union Conference of the Latin America Region

The 18th Union Conference of the Latin America Region in Lima, Peru, opened today with presentations focusing on the current situation and control of tuberculosis (TB) in the region.

Executive Director of The Union, José Luis Castro spoke on The Union’s role in the elimination of TB in the world.

He began by addressing the global goal to end the TB epidemic by 2030, saying:

“It is a scandal that TB kills more people than any other infectious disease on earth, when we know how to stop it.”

He then outlined The Union’s response and spoke in detail about The Union’s scientific research in 42 sites around the world, including in Mexico, Peru and Brazil. He highlighted The Union’s research to find solutions for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). Research carried out by The Union and partners into a shortened treatment regimen has been so effective that based on preliminary data, last May, the World Health Organization recommended the new treatment approach as the new standard for treating DR-TB.

In closing, Mr Castro spoke of The Union’s skills to take on the TB epidemic, saying:

“We have a deep well of technical and policy expertise, we have a global presence with strong relationships in low- and middle-income countries, we have the credibility that comes only from being a politically neutral, scientific organisation driven by evidence. And as we head into 2017, we are laying down the building blocks needed to change the direction of the epidemic and to put TB on a path toward elimination.”

Later in the day, José Luis Castro spoke about The Union’s lung health priorities for 2017 in tobacco and air pollution. He highlighted science presented at The Union World Conference last week, showing that children who live in households where adults smoke tobacco are more likely to become TB infected than children living in smoke-free homes.

He went on to say that The Union has launched the ITCS – the Index of Tobacco Control Sustainability, a powerful new tool that countries can use to ensure that their tobacco control programs are sustainable.

Sharing highlights from The Union’s work in the Latin America region, Mr Castro said: “Our tobacco control efforts will have impact on millions of lives, far into the future.”

The two-day conference includes presentations on non-communicable diseases, including asthma, and TB and diabetes, as well as tobacco control in the region and air pollution.

Speakers from The Union include multi-drug resistant TB expert Dr José A. Caminero and Board Member Dr Jesús Felipe Gonzalez Roldan.