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In the Field: 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health

MCN Union ConferenceLast week, MCN’s Deliana Garcia, Director of International Projects, Research, and Development, and Ed Zuroweste, MD, Chief Medical Officer, arrived in Cape Town, South Africa for the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health, the annual conference of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

Garcia co-coordinated a half-day workshop entitled Application of Program Guidelines for Community-Driven Projects to Eliminate TB Among Migrants. The workshop was well attended, with 85 participants from around the world. “It was an exceptional conference,” Garcia said upon returning to MCN’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. “It was very exciting to see a very well-attended workshop focused on TB and migration. where Health Network’s TBNet was highlighted as an innovation,” by the co-sponsor, International Organization of Migration, Garcia said.

MCN Union ConferenceAt the workshop, Dr. Zuroweste was one of several presenters offering perspectives on connecting migrants with tuberculosis to care. Dr. Zuroweste’s presentation, entitled, “Providing Global Continuity of Care for Migrant TB Patients,” centered on Health Network’s TBNet, MCN’s bridge case management program for mobile patients with TB, addressing both the structural components of Health Network and the social benefit of continuity of care planning. His presentation noted that roughly 75 percent of Health Network’s 8,221 cases have been patients with Tuberculosis, with a TB treatment completion rate of 83.9 percent. Dr. Zuroweste also reviewed a recent study that demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of Health Network for TB treatment completion.

The participants were then invited to provide suggestions and recommendations for a statement of action to the Union through three discussion groups that explored the roles of data sharing, standardized procedures, and critical funding. Upon conclusion of the workshop, the TB and Migration Working Group of the Union, of which Garcia is a member, will review and synthesize those recommendations to develop a statement of action for the Union. 

The conference, says the Union, promotes “science with impact, people with hope,” and addressed TB at the conference in unconventional ways, including through protest, games, art and music. At one plenary session, for example, hundreds of participants donned face masks in solidarity with those in treatment and to reject TB stigma. South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka performed at the unveiling of a mural about TB, painted during the conference. Read the Union’s conference news on their website.

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