This year’s Union World Conference on Lung Health was inaugurated by the Honourable Vice-President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, who described the theme of the conference – ending the emergency – as aptly focusing on what is needed for commitment to become action, so that lifesaving targets can be met.
The Honourable Governor of Telangana, Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, also attended the Opening Ceremony, and spoke of the cruelty of tuberculosis (TB) that she has witnessed in her career as a medical doctor, highlighting the particular suffering of women and children living with the disease in India.
Hollywood film and television actress Claire Forlani, Ambassador for The Union, spoke passionately about childhood TB, and the need for local interventions using simple tools for active screening and diagnosis to end the epidemic among children.
Nandita Venkatesan, TB Survivor, advocate and journalist, dedicated a dance performance to “the exemplary courage and strength displayed by millions of [her] fellow TB survivors.” Nandita, along with other representatives of civil society who spoke at the Opening Ceremony, called for urgent action from governments to end TB, and the need to place people with lived experience of TB at the centre of global decision making.
Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, President of The Union, pointed to the challenges facing global lung health, such as the tobacco industry, air pollution and climate change. Dr Chakaya said that he looked forward to the exciting announcements which will be made over the course of the week. The scientific discussions and progress made at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health will help equip the public health community to find solutions to challenges and end the emergency of TB and lung disease.
Dr Jamie Tonsing, Director of The Union’s South East Asia office, read a supportive letter to the conference from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.