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KNCV looks back on a successful Union World Conference

KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV) shares the highlights of the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health 2018 that took place last week at the World Forum in The Hague.

KNCV was proud to be the local host together with the city of The Hague, especially this year when we celebrate 115 years of experience in fighting TB worldwide.

Royal presence puts the spot on TB

Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino of Japan, and Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of The Netherlands both attended the Inaugural Session at the Union World Conference. Princess Margriet inspired with her opening speech in which she explained her own family’s connection with TB and praised the work KNCV has done in eliminating TB in the Netherlands and abroad. Afterwards the princesses visited the Holland Pavilion where they met with TB survivors.

Political momentum emphasized

Dr Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis spoke of the increasing political momentum following the recent UN High Level Meeting. “Yes, we have hurdles before us. No one at the UNHLM said it was going to be easy. But we must remember that TB is preventable, treatable and curable. Now let’s make it doable.” Dr Kitty can Weezenbeek, Executive Director of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV) told her own personal story addressing the stigma that surrounds TB and emphasized the urgency to step up the momentum in the fight against TB. “I’m probably the only executive director who would like to close its doors once we have eliminated TB.”

Breaking news for Childhood TB: Simple KNCV stool test

Childhood TB was a recurring theme during the Union World Conference. Nine-year-old South African Angelina told her story. She is one of the survivors featured in the newly released book Child TB & Stigma. Senior technical consultant of KNCV, Gunta Dravniece shared success stories from placing children on new drugs and regimens in Kyrgyzstan. But the absolute Breaking News was the announcement of a simple stool-based test, developed by researchers at KNCV, that can easily diagnose TB among children and which could be a global life-saver by enabling million more children at risk from TB and MDR-TB to be tested. This simple Xpert stool test was positive (showing TB) in all children who also had positive respiratory samples – there were no false negative stool samples. The work was done in collaboration with Ethiopian and Indonesian research institutes, and the respective national TB control programs.

TBScience 2018: A success and model for future Union conferences

TBScience2018 was the first-ever science focused gathering linked to the larger annual Union conference, attracting some 400 delegates. It was a direct result of the first meeting of the WHO TB R&D taskforce in 2017 on the need for a dedicated TB basic and translational science conference. The Union, in partnership with WHO, KNCV, TSRU and AIGHD organised this one and half day event entirely devoted to basic and translational TB research – TBScience2018. It brought together scientists from various disciplines (microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, pharmacology, clinical science, epidemiology and mathematical modelling) to present and discuss recent findings relevant to the understanding of TB transmission, infection and disease, and to the development of new vaccines and drugs, in a cross-disciplinary manner. The format was a mixture of invited and abstract- sessions and presentations, of which the content was focused on the science, while the implementation side of the equation remained the focus of the main conference.

Nurses share knowledge and experiences

Nearly 130 nurses from 36 countries met at ‘TB Nursing Care around the World’, a side-event held during the Union World Conference. In this session nurses from five countries (India, Marshall Islands, Zimbabwe, Canada and the Netherlands) shared their professional experiences of delivering TB care in a range of settings. Deepti Chavan, a MDR-TB-survivor from India also shared her impressive story with the nurses. During a network gathering nurses were able to meet each other and discussed setting up a (digital) platform for continuous sharing of knowledge and experiences. Thanks to our sponsors, the ‘s Gravenhaagse Stichting tot Steun aan de Bestrijding van Tuberculose and V&VN Dutch Nurses’ Association.

Dutch TB impact shown by partners in Holland Pavilion

In the Holland Pavilion at the central area of the venue, KNCV brought together a diverse group of Dutch stakeholders working on TB prevention, treatment and care, as well as lung health in general. The booths on the pavilions were highly visited and the presentations held on the pavilion were of high quality. The Dutch afternoon on Friday was a great moment where former patients and professionals explored the past, present and future of TB in the Netherlands, as well as the deployment of Dutch expertise and experience worldwide. We would like to thank our partners and all exhibitors in the Holland Pavilion for their implication and great enthusiasm and for making the Holland Pavilion a great success!

KNCV Award presented

During the closing ceremony of the conference Dr Wang Lixia and Dr Yogan Pillay have been awarded with the prestigious KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Award for Eminence in Tuberculosis Control. KNCV executive director Kitty van Weezenbeek presented the Dr Karel Styblo medallion and a certificate of appreciation to Dr Wang and Dr Pillay. KNCV hands out this prestigious award every five years to honor those who have provided a long-term and significant contribution to the fight against tuberculosis.