On International Women’s Day 2023, we celebrate all of the inspirational women at The Union, as we stand for opportunities for all and against inequality.
The Union is a diverse organisation, with female staff, consultants and members across the world in a variety of roles and fields. Today we shine the spotlight on just a few of these incredible women.
Professor Elif Dagli
Union member and paediatric pulmonologist
What is your role at The Union and what does it entail?
I have been a long-time member of The Union and served as Secretary General, Board member, Program Lead of Tobacco Control Section and proud to be given Honorary membership.
The Union has been a school where I learnt from giants of lung health, such as Sir John Crofton, not only the treatment but also prevention and advocacy.
What inspired you to become a paediatric pulmonologist?
I was trained as a paediatrician at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey. In 1988, I was awarded a scholarship by the British Council to study at Brompton Hospital London, which is a centre for respiratory and cardiac medicine.
Meeting great mentors at Brompton completely changed my life. On returning back to Turkey in 1990, I established the Department of Paediatric Pulmonology at Marmara University Turkey.
It took me 24 years to persuade the Ministry of Health to accept Paediatric Pulmonology as a subspecialty. I am proud to have trained many specialists, of whom 10 are now professors.
What drove you to become a tobacco control expert and advocate?
Sir John Crofton was my inspiration. After several years. examining and treating many people who had already been harmed by man-made products started not making sense to me. I was trying to treat asthma attacks caused by a legal toxin. My teachers at medical school had taught me that prevention was more valuable than treatment, so I had to do it.
What would you say to encourage others to get involved in public health?
I propose that all physicians stop the damage to the human body by environmental pollution and fossil fuels, tobacco, nicotine and cannabis inhalation. Our lungs are made for oxygen inhalation, they should not serve the greed of industries. Only we respiratory health professionals can stop this craze.