The 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health launches in India

Today in Delhi, The Union launched the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health which will be held in Hyderabad, India, 30 October – 2 November 2019.

We stand at a crossroads for lung health, with the 50th Union World Conference coming one year after the first ever United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting on TB and the third UN High-Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases. The conference theme, Ending the Emergency: Science, Leadership, Action, focuses on what is needed to ensure commitments become action, and that lifesaving targets are met.

Last year 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) and 1.6 million died from the disease. TB, a preventable and curable disease, now kills more people than HIV/AIDS and is the world’s largest infectious disease killer.

“It’s time to end the global TB emergency and that will mean holding governments accountable to the Political Declaration they signed at the UN meeting,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union. “In Hyderabad we need to be seeing signs that we are seeing real leadership that is translating into both investment in diagnostic tools, new drugs and a vaccine and action on the ground.”

As host country to the conference, India provides a unique backdrop to discussions on ending TB and lung disease with the current highest burden of TB in the world – one in four people infected with TB globally live in India. In 2017, 2.74 million people fell ill from TB, and 421,000 died from it. Rising rates of TB and diabetes co-infection are also causing great concern. The Indian government has pledged to eliminate TB by 2025.

The conference theme resonates strongly with TB, but it also raises awareness that all threats to lung health – TB, air pollution, tobacco and many more – are emergencies that our science, leadership and action needs to meet head on.

Speaking at the launch today, Deepti Chavan, who survived multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) after six years of treatment, urged policymakers to pay attention and create change. “I first shared my story in 2014 – it’s been four years but very little progress has been made. Isn’t one Deepti enough to understand this need? How many more people like me do we need?”

Ishika, a 10-year-old child who is currently undergoing treatment for extra-pulmonary TB, and her mother, shared their story. Speaking through a translator, her mother explained the challenges she faced in reaching a diagnosis and treatment for her daughter. For an entire year Ishika was unwell and showing TB symptoms but went undiagnosed until a volunteer from The Union’s Project Axshya approached the family and connected them to testing and treatment.

“Why is it we are waiting?” She asked. “Why does no one think of TB?”

The 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health, Ending the Emergency: Science, Leadership, Action will bring together an expected 6,000 researchers, policy makers, global advocates, scientists, healthcare professionals and affected communities working on all aspects of lung health. It will take place at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad, India, 30 October- 2 November 2019.

Registration opens March 2019. Scientific submissions will be open January to April 2019.

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