The Director’s Corner

The Director’s Corner

The Union World Conference on Lung Health as critical as ever

A message from José Luis Castro

Registration is open for the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health, taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 11-14 October 2017.  If you haven’t already registered, I urge you to do so. 

The Union World Conference has been leading the way in innovative thinking and scientific progress since its origins in the nineteenth century.  Exactly 150 years ago, a field of international experts convened in Paris with the mission of tackling the spread and intractability of tuberculosis (TB), then known as ‘The White Plague’. At that point, one in four people in Europe were dying from TB.  

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century and this waste of life should be a thing of the past. But we know only too well that the opposite is true. TB is the world’s leading cause of death from an infectious disease. The medicines and diagnostic tools available to treat TB are inadequate. Drug-resistant TB is a crisis. And research and development of new tools is underfunded. The terrible stigma attached to TB stops people living with the disease from accessing care in their own communities.

This cannot continue. TB knows no borders and its effects cause immense suffering to individuals and families, while disrupting economic development and putting untold pressure on healthcare systems worldwide. The Union has long campaigned for stronger political will from governments to address this – and, through the years, the Union World Conference has been a gathering point for world leaders to take soundings, discuss and debate these issues with a wider global community of scientists, advocates, civil society and healthcare professionals working in all areas of the field, including TB, HIV and tobacco control. 

This year, in Mexico, our theme is ‘Accelerating Toward Elimination’. We know we must find solutions – and fast – if we are to end TB by 2030.  The conference will also be a point to gather momentum towards the United Nations’ High-Level Meeting on Global Tuberculosis to be held during the UN General Assembly in 2018 – the first time a high-level meeting has been convened on TB.  This is significant. Governments and major institutions are recognising the threat of TB. Here is an opportunity to develop concrete international action. The Union World Conference will be a chance to have your say in advance of that meeting and help develop messaging and strategies.   

Like our colleagues all those years ago, we know the enemy – it is now time to consign TB to the history books for good. Together we can end TB. 

Join us in Guadalajara, Mexico.

More information:


José Luis Castro
Executive Director
The Union