APOPO attends World Conference on Lung Health

By Dr. Joseph Soka | Project Medical Officer, APOPO TB Tanzania

49th Union World Conference on Lung Health in The Netherlands, October 2018.

From the 24th to 27th of October 2018, I had the opportunity to attend and represent APOPO at the 49th World Conference on Lung Health of International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Health (The Union) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

This year's conference was the largest ever Union World Conference. The Hague Union conference welcomed more than 4,000 delegates from around the world, and united researchers and health professionals committed to Lung Health and to the fight against tuberculosis (TB). It was inspired by emerging science as well as the recent political commitments made at the UN High Level Meeting on TB.

One of the highlights was the attendance of Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino of Japan, and Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of The Netherlands, both leaders in the fight to end TB, at the inaugural session. HIH Princess Akishino has been actively contributing to the promotion of anti-tuberculosis activities since 1994 in her role as Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association. And HRH Princess Margriet has been committed to the fight against TB since 2010 as patroness of the Dutch KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the international centre of expertise in this field.

I had an opportunity to present our team’s work on "APOPO's TB Detection: Results in 24hrs and Patient tracking improve linkage to care Tanzania 2014-2017.” in a poster discussion session.

Our contribution showed that in 2017, after opening our new Dar es Salaam lab, and introducing same-day TB testing of the samples, as well as strengthening our partnership with MKUTA’s community health workers, 81% of the newly diagnosed TB patients started TB treatment, compared to 71% in the year before. These results support that the combination of our faster diagnostic service and patient tracking are key in achieving higher treatment initiation rates among TB patients in Tanzania. The poster raised interest with the conference audience and this will motivate our team to sustain and expand the model. I was proud to see APOPO's partner and volunteer organisation, MKUTA, receive recognition at the conference from the Stop TB Partnership for their work in supporting TB patients in Tanzania, and were awarded the 2018 Stop TB Partnership Community Leadership and Mobilization Award.

During those four conference days I had an excellent opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas with different people and organizations regarding TB and specifically, diagnostic innovations, sample referral and patient tracking. It will be an honor to share this knowledge and with my colleagues in Tanzania.  It was exciting to see how our daily work in Dar es Salaam relates to the global ambitions of finding and treating all TB patients.


APOPO TB Tanzania is very grateful to all our partners and donors for all their support!