Union World Conference draws increased student participation

The Union World Conference team and the Coordinating Committee for Scientific Activities (CCSA) have this year doubled the number of late-breaker sessions traditionally offered and expanded topics to include a lung health session for students’ research. A remarkable increase in submissions – most notably from the students – shows encouraging interest from young researchers to get involved in tuberculosis (TB) and lung health.

Advances in TB and lung health rely on new ideas brought forward for discussion. By increasing the voices of those with different ways of thinking, creative ideas and drawing from a broader range of backgrounds we can stimulate conversation and avoid stagnation in the fight against TB and lung disease.

The Union World Conference is an important annual event in the calendars of scientists, academics and researchers working in respiratory disease. Those same participants have been calling for more resources, increased attention and faster progress for TB, tobacco control, and all aspects of lung health for years – and often feel they do not receive attention from the public that they, and their patients, deserve.

In an effort to inspire debate and unite efforts towards our common goal, The Union has been working to encourage participation from those who have often been absent from the conversation – students, young people, patients, community advocates and grassroots campaigners.

Through increased opportunities for student research, an open-access space for activism and community members at the conference (the Community Common), discounts on registration for youth and students, 100 free registrations for activists and patients, volunteer opportunities at the conference for anyone interested, and student networking events, The Union endeavours to give a platform to these groups who bring new ideas and different approaches to long-standing issues.

The Union is also reaching out to these groups through its other areas of work. A new student membership category aims to foster connections for mentorship and networking among newcomers to the field, and Union projects include new public health workers in programme implementation in Union offices around the world. The Union has also increased its social media presence, using online networks to engage with organisations, activists, politicians and influencers mobilised worldwide.

Learn more about the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health and join the debate in Liverpool in October.