“The TB epidemic is sustained by broad injustices…this has to change.” Declaring our rights on World Day of Social Justice, 20 February

There is no more appropriate time than World Day of Social Justice (20 February) to reflect on how the concept of justice underpins and impacts on so many issues around health and healthcare access. This is particularly pertinent for the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic – a curable disease, but conversely responsible for 1.7 million deaths every year, with over 10 million new cases, 600,000 of which are drug resistant. It is also relevant to other lung afflictions, bound up in the right to breathe clean air or the right to be protected from tobacco industry interference.

José Luis Castro, The Union’s Executive Director, said recently, “The TB epidemic is sustained by many broader issues and injustices – global poverty, stigma and discrimination, malnutrition, gender inequality, and lack of access to healthcare and drugs – and this has to change. TB is fundamentally an issue that is an affront to basic human rights – and to combat it, we need to harness the support of a broad group that encompasses governments and communities, healthcare specialists and advocates, all working together. The solution lies within all of us.”

One of the forums for that coalition of experts and influencers is The Union’s own annual world conference on lung health. The Union is proud that this year’s event – the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health, 24-27 October – will come from the centre of social justice and human rights, The Hague in The Netherlands.

The conference will bring together researchers, advocates, scientists, healthcare professionals, students and community members working on all aspects of lung health and the conference theme - Declaring Our Rights: Social and Political Solutions – will highlight that to eliminate TB, achieve universal lung health and the Sustainable Development Goals, requires a coordinated public health response, driven by the human rights of every individual.

Lung disease is more than a clinical condition. TB, air pollution, the tobacco industry and the many other threats to lung health, all thrive where rights do not. As the city of peace and justice, The Hague provides a unique environment to link science, human rights and policy. Together with local hosts KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and the city of The Hague, the conference will provide a platform for the latest science and for policy discussions that inform public health measures that are grounded in human rights.

“TB is the world’s most lethal infectious disease, disproportionately affecting the world’s poorest populations. But everyone has the right to health, no matter where they live,” says José Luis Castro. “It is fitting that our world conference will be hosted by The Hague, a city with a historic tradition of campaigning for social justice. That 1.7 million people die each year from TB – a curable disease - is an affront to basic human rights. There is no more appropriate place than The Hague to communicate this point to the world, and demand action.”

Registration for this important conference will open on World TB Day on 24 March. Until then, follow updates on our social media feeds and join us in ‘Declaring Our Rights’, on behalf of all those who continue to be denied theirs.

#WorldDaySocialJustice – 20 February

Website: http://thehague.worldlunghealth.org/

Twitter: @UnionConference

#UnionConf

#DeclaringOurRights

 Facebook: @TheUnionWorldConferenceOnLungHealth

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