Building partnerships between The Union and Civil Society
The Union’s President Dr E Jane Carter presented an overview of The Union to civil society members and other interested participants at the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health.
Speaking as part of the Community Common programme, Jane presented the unique history of The Union, describing how The Union was established in 1920 when 31 countries came together to deal with the intractable threat of tuberculosis (TB) which, at that time, was accounting for one in four deaths throughout Europe.
“The Union has always, since its very inception, been united by the goal to eliminate tuberculosis.”
The session also highlighted the essential role played by civil society in the global fight against TB and went on to consider the potential of partnerships between civil society organisations and The Union as a way to advocate for change.
“Grassroots activists are a crucial link between local communities and the politicians who represent them and serve as an active reminder of the reality of dealing with this disease. The Union was built on the principle of health solutions for the poor and there can be no solutions without taking the community voice into account.”
The Union works closely with civil society members, and Jane explained the importance of having civil society representation sitting on its Board of Directors and involved in its programmes and advocacy.
Describing to the attendees how The Union World Conference provides a platform for attendees to see and understand the work of The Union, Jane continued:
“Through our conference and our other work, we want to move around the world and get closer to our members. We have active members operating in 144 countries – we are truly a global organisation."
The session finished with a reworking of ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant”, a poem by John Godfrey Saxe.
The basic premise of the poem is that a group of blind men all touch an elephant to learn what it is but each one only feels one part and interpret the elephant through their own particular experience. They are all correct but their understanding only makes up a part of the whole.
“In the same way, The Union is the sum of its many varied parts – and we are stronger for it. I urge you all this conference to find out about the many different elements of The Union."