Liverpool’s legacy of leading tuberculosis (TB) research made it a fitting host for the recent Union World Conference on Lung Health. The four-day event, which took place 26-29 October at ACC Liverpool, attracted more than 3,000 delegates, speakers and researchers from 125 countries.

Professor Bertie Squire of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), past president and board member of The Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), was central to bringing the event to the city.

He said: “I am delighted that The Union is in Liverpool for its 47th annual conference. Liverpool has a proud history of medical research and innovation, innovation which is still apparent today in some of the ground-breaking research being carried out across its institutions and through their collaborations across the world. LSTM was the first school of tropical medicine anywhere in the world, and lung health and TB remains one of our central research themes, as does our aim to ensure that our research benefits poorer populations who need it the most.”

The theme of this year’s conference was Confronting Resistance: Fundamentals to Innovations, and areas of discussion included the growing problem of resistance to existing TB drugs, as well as global tobacco control work.

The LSTM is just one of the city’s medical research institutions focused on lung healthIts multi-disciplinary approach covers the full spectrum of the complex, often poverty-driven, global problems around chronic lung diseases, respiratory infection and TB.

The conference featured a panel of Ministers of Health who reflected on the political commitments and actions in achieving the global targets of ending TB and tobacco-related diseases, while a media field trip visited the LSTM to see the work being undertaken there.

Activity aligned with the conference to build wider community engagement within Liverpool included the lighting of three open fires inside miniature replica housing on the venue’s piazza to demonstrate air pollution and fire risks. Meanwhile, Liverpool Homeless Football Club hosted a programme of mini football tournaments for delegates and members of the public.

New research revealed at the conference showed a promising new regime of seven antibiotics can eliminate multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) within just nine months, less than half the time it takes with current treatments. A two-year study of 1,006 people with MDR-TB treated with the new course of drugs across nine African countries showed 82 per cent were cured. The current standard treatment is only successful in 55 per cent of people. It is also estimated the new drug regime is cheaper: less than $1,000 per person, compared with at least $3,000 for the current treatment.

(via AMI and New Scientist)

Featured image: The 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health, Liverpool, UK (©Steve Forrest/The Union/Workers’ Photos)