The Director’s Corner

The Director’s Corner

Confronting resistance at the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health

A message from José Luis Castro

As I write this, we are less than eight weeks from the start of The Union’s annual conference on lung health. Taking place in Liverpool, UK, this is the world’s largest meeting of scientists, advocates and healthcare professionals working in the field of tuberculosis (TB), HIV, lung disease and tobacco control. This year we are focusing on the topical theme of Confronting Resistance: Fundamentals to Innovations.

The Union’s world conference dates back to 1867 when a field of international experts convened in Paris to discuss how to confront the intractability of TB. It was a crisis situation - at that point, one in four people in Europe were dying from the disease.

In the twenty-first century, this waste of life should be a thing of the past. But TB remains one of the greatest threats to health globally, with nearly nine million new cases each year. And the treatments themselves are no longer infallible. In 2014, the global burden of estimated cases of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) was nearly 500,000. Another desperate crisis point for the public health community.

The Union’s world conference is more relevant than ever - a critical opportunity for thousands of participants to coordinate responses to existing – and new – challenges. But confronting resistance is about more than drug resistance, it’s about breaking free of traditional roles and finding new ways to surmount the obstacles. We need to see doctors advocating for real change for patients; it’s patients calling on pharmaceutical companies to finance innovation as well as drugs; it’s about all of us thinking of fresh angles and perspectives backed by workable proposals for behaviour change.

Some of the highlights in Liverpool include:

  • Debates on the next moves on confronting drug resistance; TB mortality in children; TB and migration, TB in vulnerable populations such as prisoners
  • Issues for tobacco control and lung diseases, ranging from asthma to pneumonia. For example, Women and Tobacco Use; Tackling Second-hand Smoking; The Changing Landscape of Tobacco Control; E-Cigarettes (Where are we now?); and sessions on air pollution; COPD and asthma management
  • A variety of full and half-day post graduate courses offered between 25-26 October
  • A diverse programme of speakers – for example, campaigner and social affairs commentator Stephen Lewis will be offering his own unique perspective advocating for TB in the keynote inaugural session.

Liverpool’s own history is steeped in scientific research and is home of the world famous Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It is the ideal location and moment in time to move towards our common goal of ending TB by 2035.

Join us in Liverpool, UK, between 26-29 October:

Twitter: @unionconference
Facebook: TheUnionLungHealth

José Luis Castro
Executive Director
The Union