I am very proud to share with you The Union’s Annual Report for 2017, which presents updates on our most recent project work and documentation of our impact around the world.
With members in 147 countries, and operations led by staff and consultants in 63 countries, The Union is working to alleviate the world’s most debilitating lung conditions, from the deadly effects of tuberculosis (TB), a curable disease that still kills 1.7 million people annually, to combatting the worst excesses of the tobacco industry. For every highlight mentioned in this report, there are hundreds of other activities that are helping the world’s most vulnerable live their best lives.
“The Union’s role brings us closer to the political commitment that will mean a world free from TB, a world that prevents NCDs. Imagine that.”
But what strikes me most forcibly is how the energy and commitment of our people, often working in inhospitable, sometimes hazardous areas, combine with the latest science to deliver on a very clear goal – that of improving public health in the communities in most need.
In these pages, you will see examples of innovations in TB treatment regimens and critical research and guidance that enables clinicians and healthcare workers to make a difference to their communities.
This year, we continued our commitment to research with the release of preliminary results from Stage 1 of the STREAM randomised clinical trial. We stepped up our advocacy work, delivering a TB-Free India Summit that galvanised support from government, politicians, the media and Indian celebrities for increasing momentum to end TB on the continent by 2025. We enabled countries like Indonesia to implement 100 percent smoke-free laws and tobacco advertising bans, facing down the relentless bullying from a tobacco industry that continually seeks new markets to exploit. And we worked with our partners at the Forum of International Respiratory Societies to establish the first ever dedicated World Lung Day.
This wide-ranging body of work creates the building blocks of evidence we need to influence policy at its highest level, including those attending the first ever United Nations High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on TB and the third UN HLM on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
If we are to genuinely create the momentum that makes a difference, the world’s leaders must make concrete commitments on delivering greater investments into prevention and treatment. We need guarantees that new tools and resources will be provided to meet these challenges head-on. Not promises or empty declarations but timely, accountable, real pledges to act.
Reviewing our work in 2017, I am convinced that The Union – thanks to the efforts of all our members, staff and collaborators – has played a major role in bringing us closer to getting the commitments that will mean a world finally free from TB, a world that prevents NCDs. Imagine that.
JOSÉ LUIS CASTRO