Message from the Executive Director

Message from the Executive Director

Building on success

José Luis Castro, 28 November 2019

Reflecting on the success of the 50th World Conference on Lung Health, I am reminded of how far The Union has come over the past six years since embarking on our ‘Road to 2020’.

Long established as a scientific meeting, the Union World Conference has evolved and grown to engage with a wider community of stakeholders. The strength of this approach was well realised in Hyderabad, where policy makers, funders, business, survivors and advocates gathered in common cause, building a powerful coalition for action on tuberculosis (TB) and lung health.

We hosted the inaugural Survivors Summit, as well as the first corporate roundtable, an exciting Community Connect programme and other important side-events, including announcements of new investment and advances by Unitaid, TB Alliance and industry partners.  Together with high-level involvement from the Government of India, the World Health Organization and excellent science, these enabled us to generate unprecedented global media coverage in press, broadcast, online and social media. 

The Union has become a leading forum for knowledge exchange and the sharing of ideas, initiatives and innovation. This success is a tribute to the hard work of colleagues and members, and to the guidance of the Board. In particular, Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, who has just completed his three-year term as President, effectively brought everyone together with a shared vision and purpose, under the banner of ‘One Union’.

Dr Chakaya is loved and respected by all of us who have been fortunate to work with him. In Hyderabad, he handed over the Presidency to Professor Guy Marks, who has already launched a consultation on our vision, values and strategic plan to meet the challenges of the next five years. The funding environment is changing, and we cannot rely on the business model that has sustained us in recent years.

The Union will build on our successes, expanding our membership and clearly communicating the benefits to current and prospective new members, including philanthropic and corporate donors.  This is why we have developed a new business plan to focus on activities that realise the vision of The Union.

We want to be truly global and truly representative of all stakeholder groups, whether healthcare workers, survivors and affected communities, government agencies, businesses, and civil society organisations.

As we move into The Union’s Centennial year, we are looking to further improve and develop our engagement with diverse stakeholders, and mobilise them to work together with scientists and the global health community, both to end the TB epidemic, and to tackle the wider challenges of lung health, including tobacco, asthma, COPD and air pollution.