The 23rd Annual Conference of The Union North America Region welcomed over 300 tuberculosis (TB) experts who heard an engaging programme of sessions, covering the timely topic of the next steps following the historic UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB as well as the latest on TB care and prevention.
The conference focused on the next steps to achieving the goals outlined in the End TB strategy. The strategy aims to end the global TB epidemic, with targets to reduce TB deaths by 95 percent and to cut new cases by 90 percent between 2015 and 2035. TB advocates, survivors, scientists, clinicians and programme managers were encouraged to play their part to help bring commitments to actions.
The three-day programme, from 21 to 23 February, was held in Vancouver, Canada and welcomed speakers from across the world. Dr Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer and Vice President for Public Health for Vancouver Coastal Health, opened the afternoon session on Friday 22 February with a Beyond TB lecture discussing opioid use and TB.
Keynote speaker, Dr Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis, addressed the significant hurdles that must be overcome to see the end of TB. In order to overcome the hurdles Dr Goosby said that we must see a concerted effort and a united approach from all stakeholders. We must rally for prevention strategies, implement and expand on what we know works in the care and prevention of TB, promote the urgent need to have more resources for R&D and most importantly to remember a TB-free world requires shared responsibility and accountability. Dr Goosby concluded by acknowledging it is an exciting time for TB with growing momentum for TB prevention and cure.
Despite this growing momentum, the conference also highlighted that TB is still percieved as a disease of the past when in reality it is very much an epidemic we face right now. TB is an overlooked disease. The recent HLM has helped to put it in the spotlight. We need to combine our efforts to amplify the message that the commitments we have heard must become actions. This conference has been a great opportunity to address the steps we must take to reach our goals.
The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award was Dr. Andrew Anthony Vernon.
Each year The Union North America Region recognises valuable contributions of colleagues working in the field of TB control and prevention. This is the highest award of the region and is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of TB over a lifetime. Dr Vernon first joined the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 1978, serving as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer. Since then he has made significant contributions to the care and treatment of patients affected by TB, as well as advancements to research and TB science.