Message from the Executive Director

2018 was a historic year for The Union.

The 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health welcomed a record number of delegates – including royal guests from Japan and the Netherlands – and featured several scientific breakthroughs, including an update on a new tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, a revolutionary method for diagnosing child TB, and promising study results for treating extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).

In The Union’s 98 years of existence, there are several historic moments that stand out. 2018 was similarly momentous.

The Union became co-leader in a new global tobacco industry watchdog to crack down on industry interference. This tobacco control work will complement the technical and legal support The Union already provides to 69 grantee organisations working to combat tobacco use in 23 countries.

And 2018 saw the global health community come together to call for an end to TB and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the first-ever United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Ending TB and the third UN HLM on NCDs. At that landmark event, world leaders from almost every country signed a political declaration committing to concrete, measurable, human-rights based targets towards ending the TB epidemic.

In The Union’s 98 years, there are several historic moments that stand out – the discovery of streptomycin in 1943, the development of the DOTS strategy in the 1970s and 80s, improved and shortened treatment regimens for people with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the early 2000s – and 2018 was similarly momentous.

The Union was established in 1920 as a global movement working to end TB, and for the first time, we have governments on record committing to do just that. Since then, The Union has grown into a global public health organisation working to find person-centred health solutions for everyone who breathes.

In 2019, The UN will convene an HLM on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). I am encouraged to see that as The Union moves towards its centennial in 2020, the principles of collaborative partnerships that our organisation was built upon are being extended beyond individual health issues and to the highest levels of government as we recognise the interconnected health, social, economic, and environmental impacts of all our work.

I am proud to share the 2018 Annual Report, which sets out a picture of an organisation driving international conversations around the fundamental right to health, paving the way in critical research, and developing expertise and sharing knowledge that ultimately improves the lives of some of the most vulnerable people across the globe.

I sincerely thank all those who helped to make that work possible – our dedicated staff, consultants and members as well as the donors and partners who support us.