The Hague, The Netherlands, will join cities across the globe emblazoning its landmarks in red to mark World TB Day on 24 March and to shine a light on the city as the host for the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health in October.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading infectious disease killer worldwide. Latest figures* state that the disease kills 1.7 million people annually (including almost 400,000 people with HIV-associated TB), and is the ninth leading cause of death globally.
World TB Day [known as World Stop TB Day in The Netherlands] aims to galvanise political and social commitment towards eliminating TB as a public health burden. The Light Up the World for TB initiative – organised by the Stop TB Partnership – is one of the ways governments and local authorities draw attention to the issue. The Dutch KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation rolled out the initiative in The Netherlands.
The Hague will light up eight buildings including the SkyView Wheel De Pier; the Amrâth Kurhaus Hotel; the Zuiderstrand Theatre; the World Forum The Hague; KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Central Office; Grote Kerk (or The Big Church in The Hague); Paard; and theme park Madurodam, which was founded in 1952 to raise money for students with TB, so they could continue their studies while being treated.
Last year, landmarks that turned red for TB included Niagara Falls in Canada, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, and the Jet d’Eau on Lake Geneva, along with other monuments in the cities of Barcelona, Lima, Bucharest, Karachi, and Newcastle in the UK.
Illuminating its buildings for World TB Day is part of The Hague and The Netherlands’ commitment to raise awareness of the global impact of TB and the battle to ensure every person everywhere has access to quality TB treatment and care.
It comes ahead of the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health, to be held in The Hague from 24-27 October 2018. The local hosts of this year’s conference are KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and The City of The Hague.
Kitty van Weezenbeek, Executive Director, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, said: “It is time to bring TB into the light and make every citizen across the globe aware that this disease is curable and treatable yet is still the world’s biggest infectious disease killer. Lighting landmarks in our city, including the KNCV offices, is a great way to bring the issue into the public conscience, build conversations, and affirm our commitment to tackling TB.”
The 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health is the world’s largest gathering of clinicians and public health workers, health programme managers, policymakers, researchers and advocates working to end the suffering caused by lung disease, with a focus specifically on the challenges faced by the low-and-middle-income populations. Of the 10 million people who die each year from lung diseases, 80 percent live in resource-limited countries.
The conference theme will be Declaring Our Rights: Social and Political Solutions highlighting the essential need for a human rights approach and greater political commitment to eradicate TB and reduce the global threats of tobacco use, air pollution and other lung diseases.
José Luis Castro, Executive Director, The Union, said: “It is fantastic to see The Hague supporting the Light Up the World initiative for World TB Day, underpinning its commitment to ending TB and the social injustices which help TB to thrive. TB has failed to attract the necessary political leadership and commitment to provide sustainable funding and resources and this is an affront to human rights. As the city of peace, welfare and justice, The Hague is showing the way and will provide the perfect backdrop to The Union conference bringing together the latest science, international policy and human rights agendas to inform public health measures going forward.”
Karsten Klein, Deputy Mayor, The City of The Hague said: “We are delighted to support World TB Day and to work with KNCV and The Union to host such a prestigious and important international conference and help raise awareness of the impact of TB is having across the world. There is still a long way to go to end the disease but by raising awareness and bringing together the right people, we will have a better chance of eradicating the disease forever.”
*Latest TB figures: WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2017