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In memoriam: Professor Victorino Farga Cuesta

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Professor Victorino Farga Cuesta, former Executive Director of The Union and Honorary Member, died this week on 15 July, having just turned 92.

Professor Victorino Farga Cuesta, former Executive Director of The Union and Honorary Member, died this week on 15 July, having just turned 92.

In January 1977 Prof Victorino Farga Cuesta was appointed Executive Director of The Union. For two years he travelled the world, contributing to the organisation of tuberculosis (TB) control programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He was integral in the organisation of regional and international conferences including the XXIV Union World Conference in Brussels. He was involved in the expansion of activities coming under The Union’s umbrella to include respiratory diseases, resulting in the renaming of the organisation to include ‘Lung Disease’. He also edited the then named International Journal of Tuberculosis in three languages: English, French and Spanish. At the end of 1978, the strong pull of clinical medicine and family took him back to his adopted country of Chile.

Born in Barcelona, Spain, Prof Victorino Farga Cuesta fled the Spanish Civil War with his family, before eventually emigrating to Chile in 1939. There, at the University of Chile, he gained a medical degree, before spending much of his global career working in respiratory diseases and TB. At the time when he first became interested in the sector, Chile had one of the highest rates of TB mortality in the world. In addition to being Executive Director of The Union between 1977 and 1978, other key titles included: Chair of Tisiology of the University of Chile, President of the Chilean Society of Respiratory Diseases (Sociedad Chilena de Enfermedades Respiratorias), advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), advisor to the Chilean Ministry of Health’s TB Control Programmes, and a prominent member of the Chilean Academy of Medicine (Academia Chilena de Medicina).

Since the beginning of his career, Prof Victorino Farga Cuesta has published more than 200 articles or books and has been editor of several medical publications. In 2011, together with José A. Caminero, he co-authored Tuberculosis, a reference text on the subject widely distributed in Latin America.

Prof Victorino Farga Cuesta will be remembered for his outstanding tenacity and perseverance to achieve goals. He was a great physician and teacher, but will also be remembered for his personal attributes, including his generosity, his strict ethical code, his love of Chile, and above all his devotion to people - his colleagues from other countries, and especially his family.

Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, President of The Union, said "Prof Victorino Farga Cuesta has taught generations of doctors, and held pivotal roles in TB control, including as Executive Director of our own organisation. His commitment to respiratory health, particularly in Latin America has been exemplary.  All of us from The Union, and the wider TB community, express our condolences to his wife, his children, family, and friends. He will be greatly missed by his numerous colleagues from around the world.”

Photograph taken from the biography of Victorino Farga Cuesta (Biografía Victorino Farga)