Film and television actress Claire Forlani has accepted a role as ambassador for the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and will speak at the opening ceremony of the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health to be held in Hyderabad, India from 30 October to 2 November.
More than 2,500 delegates including political leaders and health officials, doctors, researchers, nurses, tuberculosis (TB) survivors and civil society organisations from around the world, are expected to attend the Union World Conference, the first in more than half a century to be held in India.
“It is shocking that today TB is the world’s largest infectious disease killer, despite it being preventable, treatable and curable”, said Claire Forlani.
“I am grateful to be able to help raise awareness of this disease, beginning with the Union World Conference in Hyderabad. We cannot end TB around the world unless we end it in India.”
In 2017, 10 million people globally fell ill with TB and 1.6 million died from the disease. India has the highest TB burden in the world, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to eliminate TB in India by 2025, five years ahead of the official United Nations’ (UN) target.
“We are delighted that Claire has accepted this vital role and are honoured that she is coming to India to see the challenges for herself”, said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union.
“The fight to beat TB is an emergency, and it is our hope that the conference will provide continuing momentum in the drive to eliminate the disease both in India and worldwide.”
Speakers at the opening ceremony will also include: Dr Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization; senior representatives of the Government of India and the State of Telangana; and Nandita Venkatesan, a TB survivor, activist and journalist from Mumbai.
On Tuesday 29 October, the conference will host the inaugural Survivors Summit, which is expected to be attended by hundreds of survivors of TB and other lung diseases from around the world.
The scale of the TB global health emergency has been acknowledged by the UN, which held the inaugural High-Level Meeting on TB in New York last September, culminating in a Political Declaration signed by world leaders committed to ending TB by 2030.