Opening Remarks by Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet at the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health at the World Forum, The Hague

Your Imperial Highness, Excellency’s, Members of Parliaments, delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The  Union has gracefully given me the opportunity to welcome you all to The Netherlands.

It is the 3rd time that this Conference takes place in our country...

In 1932 my great grandmother Queen Emma opened the conference and in 1967 we also had the honor of hosting the global TB Community here.

I am honored to be in your presence today just one month after the important milestone of the UN High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis.

This devastating disease, which takes 1.6 million lives annually, is finally getting the global attention it has craved for many years.

During my - more or less lifelong- work for the Red Cross both nationally and internationally, I have seen the devastating effect of life-threatening diseases often combined with war, natural disasters and consequently large people movements.

Throughout my work global health, access to good care for vulnerable groups, and reducing stigma have been areas close to my heart.

Access to those affected is an every day challenge. Moreover it is shocking to learn the antibiotics which have saved so many lives, are becoming less and less effective. Antimicrobial Resistance is a global threat that also has become a high risk for tuberculosis.

The recent international political commitment during the High Level meeting, like expressed in New York, is vital for progress.

Many of you work under challenging situations in countries most affected by tuberculosis. Your patients and yourself need and deserve the political support to enable you to offer quality TB care and eliminate TB!

When I grew up we were  prominently aware of the existence of tuberculosis. There were sanatoria all around where we lived and at school the children were checked for TB.

Princess Sophie, Queen Emma’s oldest sister lost her life due to tuberculosis. Emma was eleven years old, Sophie was 15.

After that terrible loss Emma stood up to fight TB during all her life. She was the driving force behind the first and following establishment of sanatoria in our country; she was especially motivated to take care of the patients that were unable to pay for treatment. Another connection for me is that my grandmother on my father’s side came down with TB, but for her it had a positive note in the end as she met my grandfather while taking a cure in Davos… otherwise I would not be here today…

All this accounts for the fact that I personally have always been aware of TB from childhood on and that was a strong contribution to my motivation to gladly accept the patronage of the KNCV.

This year also marks the 115th  anniversary of the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation. As Patroness I recognize the transitions the organization has gone through in its lifetime. The KNCV was established by civil society at a time TB was still a major cause of death, with no medicines available.

During these 115 years, the KNCV played an important role in the pre-elimination of TB in the Netherlands and in developing and scaling up the DOTS strategy in high burden countries. Today, the KNCV brings together this low and high prevalence expertise and experience for further innovations in the global fight against TB. 

The KNCV does so in close collaboration with academia, NGOs, public health services and corporate sector partners. They join forces to develop, introduce and scale-up new technologies and approaches to combat TB.

Over the years, the Netherlands has developed into a global hub for TB control innovations. And we are proud of that!

You can meet some of these partners in the Holland Pavilion here at the Conference. I trust that this important conference with so many distinguished professionals will be highly successful in the spirit of ‘joint ventures’ to end TB.

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