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“TB is the underdog of infectious diseases and I have always wanted to fight for the underdog”

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Carrie Tudor

Carrie Tudor is the TB Project Director with the International Council of Nurses, and was recently appointed as the new Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Scientific Activities (CCSA), which develops the scientific programme for the Union World Conference.

When, how and why did you get involved with The Union? 

I first got involved with The Union in 2010 at the 41st Union World Conference in Berlin. I had heard of The Union but it was the first conference I attended. At that conference I got involved with the Nurses and Allied Professionals Sub-section and the infection control working group. After that first meeting you could say I was hooked. I greatly value the Union World Conference for being truly global and bringing experts from across the globe together to discuss how to best address tuberculosis (TB) and lung health issues on a global scale.

What is your background, and some career highlights?

I have been working in global health for more than 20 years – mostly in Asia and Africa. I am a nurse and have a PhD in nursing. Through my work as the TB Project Director with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) I have been fortunate to work with wonderful and dedicated TB nurses across Africa, China and Russia.

The ICN TB/MDR-TB project has been working to build the capacity and knowledge of nurses working in TB to improve their practice in the care and treatment of patients with TB and drug-resistant-TB. It has been a rewarding experience to see so many nurses recognise the gaps in their practice and to develop solutions on how to improve the care of patients in their settings. Many nurses trained go on to leadership positions and work to share their knowledge and passion with others.

What is it that drives your involvement with TB and lung health issues?

I have been interested in infectious diseases for a long time and this interest led me to pursue a career in global health. It is difficult to say why I am interested in TB exactly but I think it is because TB is so intertwined with so many other issues like poverty, discrimination, stigma, social justice and public health. TB is like the underdog of infectious diseases and I have always wanted to fight for the underdog.

Tell us something about the CCSA and why you think it is important.

It is important to remember that The Union is a member organisation and the CCSA members are elected by the members of their respective sections and sub-sections.  I really enjoyed being a member of the CCSA when I was the Programme Secretary of the NAPS sub-section and working collaboratively with some incredible people from different backgrounds and with broad expertise.

The CCSA members work hard – on a volunteer basis – to put the scientific programme of the conference together every year.  The CCSA works together to ensure that the scientific programme is well rounded to include the latest science as well as implementation and policy issues. The Union has been proactive in recent years at also including the voice of civil society in the Union World Conference planning and programme.

The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” What has this meant to you, and what do you think its impact has been?

This year has proven to be a very challenging year for nurses, especially those working in lung health and critical care due to the COVID pandemic. The extra recognition the nursing profession has received this year has been very welcome, but more needs to be done to ensure that nurses receive appropriate compensation, staffing, protection and support.

We have seen too many stories of nurses around the world without adequate personal protective equipment and experiencing physical and emotional burn out. I am happy that nurses and midwives are getting the attention they deserve, but I hope that the Year of the Nurse and Midwife also leads to some positive changes in government commitment to increase nurse staffing levels and compensation and to ensure that nurses and all health workers have a safe environment in which to work.

I was very pleased that The Union invited Elizabeth Iro, Chief Nursing Officer of the World Health Organization, to speak at the Union World Conference this year on the role of nurses in achieving universal health coverage. It was wonderful to see nurses included in the programme and this was really special for the nurse members and I hope that others enjoyed it as well.