The 20th Africa Union Conference on Lung Health would be opened in Accra, today, with more than 800 delegates from Africa and around the world attending.
The four-day conference would have delegates deliberating and finding ways of fighting Tuberculosis (TB) and it related lung diseases on the continent.
The 20th Africa Union Conference on Lung Health, which would be held at the Accra International Conference Centre, would be on the theme: “Accelerating Implementation Through Partnership to end TB, HIV/TB, Tobacco and other Related non- communicable diseases (NCDs).”
This year’s conference, coincidentally, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Ghana Society for the Prevention of TB (GSPT).
The conference, described as the premier TB conference, would be attended by researchers, health care professionals, public administrators, civil society, communities, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers working on TB and lung controls mainly in the African Region, America, Asia, and Europe.
It aims to contribute to the health promotion of TB and lung disease control in the African Region through research presentations, workshops and discussions.
The conference would cover the areas of HIV/TB, tobacco, epidemiology, health systems, and advocacy in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Stop TB Partnership and other institutions.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, Dr Frank Bonsu, Conference Chair said Ghana hosting the conference was historic, explaining that “the first Union Africa Regional Conference was hosted in Ghana in 1967 and again: “we are hosting the 2017 conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Union.”
He explained that the conference would provide the opportunity for researchers, academia, scientists, policy makers, service providers, politicians and civil society to learn and share the latest clinical, scientific, social and programmatic topics on TB, NCDs, TB/HIV, Tobacco and other Lung Health.
There would also be “Experience sharing and lessons learnt would help to ensure that TB and its related diseases were completed eliminated from the continent”.
Dr Bonsu noted that: “Ghana has over the years achieved a lot in the area of fighting TB with new technologies and methodologies, which would be worth sharing with other countries during the conference period”.
Topics to be discussed at the conference would include various symposia on host-pathogen interactions, Drug-Resistant TB, TB/HIV Co-infection, TB in vulnerable population, communities and civil society, TB and innovative technologies, tobacco, asthma as well as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.
“We will also offer several pre-meeting postgraduate courses including: laboratory and diagnostic methods, MDRTB new regimen, Universal Health Coverage, Advocacy, Childhood TB and Procurement and Supply Management”, he added.
Dr Bonsu who is also the President of the GPST said scientists and inventors from around the globe would also use the opportunity to meet the TB drug manufacturers and present their research papers as well as exhibit their products.
He urged participating countries to draw lessons, applicable to their peculiar situations, so that together, “We will improve on the quality of care and eliminate this deadly disease from our continent”.
Dr Bonsu said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who is the Chief Patron of the GSPT would be attending the conference to give the inaugural lecture.
He paid tribute to Dr Nicholas De Heer, the only surviving member of the GSPT who played a key role in the first Union conference in 1967.
He would be around to share his experience.
Ghana’s TB Ambassador, Ehunabobrim Prah Agyensaim VI, King and President of Assin Owirenkyi Traditional Council would also be in attendance.
Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, President of the Union sharing his message with the GNA, said the Union’s Regional Conference would offer an important opportunity for delegates to co-ordinate their responses to existing and new challenges in global lung health and connect the science community with broader networks and audiences.
José Luis Castro, Executive Director of the Union said the conference would be a vital and historic time for all those involved in the fight for lung health to share ideas and experiences.
He noted the anniversary would reaffirm the outstanding commitment and passion of Union members to end TB, HIV, tobacco and the related NCDs.
“And as we gather together, the first World Health Organisation’s Director General from Africa takes office bringing new leadership and inspiration for our onward journey.
“It is against this backdrop that we will come together to form new collaborations and share ideas to achieve the ambitious 2030 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.