The Union

Plenary Speakers: biographies and photos

Download: Plenary speakers bios

Download: Plenary speaker photos

Thursday, 3 December 2015:  Inaugural session   

Welcome to the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health  
E Jane Carter, President of The Union 

Dr E Jane Carter has focused her career on TB and is both an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University (USA) and Director of the Brown Kenya Medical Exchange Programme at Moi University (Kenya). She has been a Union member since 1990 and has led the organisation as President since 2012.

Inaugural lecture: Turning the tide against lung disease in South Africa

Speaker: Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President, South Africa 

Deputy President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa was born on 17 November 1952 in Johannesburg. 

He studied at the University of the North in 1972, where he became involved in student politics, joining the South African Student Organisation (SASO) and the Black People’s Convention (BPC). 

Mr Ramaphosa was detained in 1974 for organising pro-Frelimo rallies that were held to celebrate the independence of Mozambique. He was detained for the second time in 1976 following the Soweto student uprising.

He became the first general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982. In 1991, he was elected African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General and subsequently became head of the ANC team that negotiated the transition to democracy. Following the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, he was elected chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly, which wrote South Africa's new democratic constitution.

In December 2012, Mr Ramaphosa was elected Deputy President of the ruling African National Congress and on 25 May 2014, he was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa.  

Overcoming TB/HIV to live an empowered life: a testimonial

Speaker: Juliet Vivien Nalumu (Uganda)

Juliet Vivien Nalumu is Site Coordinator for mothers2mothers in Uganda.

Juliet knows first-hand the fear and heartbreak that being pregnant and HIV-positive can bring. When mothers2mothers came to Uganda, she became a Mentor Mother and is now a Site Coordinator. m2m is a non-profit organisation working to eliminate paediatric AIDS and improve the health and wellbeing of mothers, babies and families. It has reached more than 1.3 million HIV-positive mothers in nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa and catalysed affiliated Mentor Mother programmes in two additional countries.  

Juliet oversees day-to-day operations of m2m’s site at the Kamuli Mission Hospital in Uganda.  Together with a team of Mentor Mothers, all of whom are mothers living with HIV, she provides essential health education and support to other HIV-positive women on how they can prevent transmitting HIV to their babies and stay healthy.

Although she lost one baby and another tested positive, since joining m2m Juliet and her husband have had two more children, both negative.  She is studying for a bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration.  


Friday, 4 December 2015: Plenary I

Panel Discussion: The State of TB and HIV on the 27th anniversary of World AIDS Day
Moderator: Meera Senthilingam (UK)  

Mark Dybul (Switzerland), Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. 

Dr Mark Dybul has worked on HIV and public health for more than 25 years as a clinician, scientist, teacher and administrator. A graduate of Georgetown Medical School, he joined the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he conducted HIV research, including the first randomised, controlled clinical trial with combination antiretroviral therapy in Africa. He was a driving force behind the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and served as US Global AIDS Coordinator from 2006 to 2009. In 2012 he was appointed Executive Director of The Global Fund. He is also a Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Michel Sidibé (Switzerland) is Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Under the leadership of Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS works to ensure that no one is behind in the HIV response and that everyone in need has access to life-saving HIV services. He initiated the global call to eliminate HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive.

Mr Sidibé has spent more than 30 years in public service. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from several leading universities, as well as an honorary professorship at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2012, the Africa Report named him one of the 50 most influential Africans.

Linda-Gail Bekker (South Africa) is President-Elect, International AIDS Society; Professor of Medicine and Deputy Director, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town; and Chief Operating Officer, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. 

Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, MBChB, DTMH, DCH, FCP(SA), PhD, is a physician scientist with a keen interest in HIV, tuberculosis and related diseases. Her doctoral work focused on the host response to tuberculosis both with and in the absence of HIV co-infection. Subsequently her research interests have expanded to include programmatic and action research around antiretroviral roll out and TB integration, prevention of HIV in women, youth and men who have sex with men, which have led to numerous publications. In her role in the Foundation, she is passionate about community development and engagement and actively explores new and innovative ways to tackle the challenge that is HIV.

Constance Manwa (Zimbabwe) is a TB survivor.

Constance Manwa (Zimbabwe) is a 32-year-old survivor of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). She was living with HIV when she developed MDR-TB and received treatment for both at one of the Union-supported clinics providing integrated TB-HIV care in Zimbabwe. Through this approach she was successfully cured of MDR-TB. Today she continues to receive antiretroviral treatment through the clinic and is living a happy, healthy life with her family and six-year-old son, who is TB-free and HIV-negative.


Saturday, 5 December 2015: Plenary Session II      

Tackling tuberculosis in key affected populations

Drug resistance and the contribution of zoonotic TB

Speaker: Paul van Helden (South Africa)

Professor Paul van Helden (South Africa) is Director of Stellenbosch University’s Medical Research Centre.

Professor van Helden decided to focus his research on TB in 1989 and became acting director of Stellenbosch University’s Medical Research Centre the following year. He was appointed Director in 1992 and has overseen its growth from one to 110 PhD students working on TB.  Widely known as both a researcher and mentor, with Professor van Helden’s leadership, the MRC is today a world-class research centre focused on TB and has helped make Stellenbosch University one of the top 20 institutions in TB research worldwide. 

uBuntu and research involving communities with a high burden of TB

Speaker: Nicholas Bhengu, title (South Africa)

Rev Nicholas Busani Bhengu is a native of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa and today presides over the Uniting Presbyterian Church in the Caluza community of Pietermaritzburg.

Rev Bhengu is also a member of a community research advisory team for a project on the uptake and effectiveness of isoniazid preventive therapy in a region of high TB-HIV co-infection. Through this work, he hopes to increase the interaction between researchers and communities, enabling community members to learn from and about research and helping researchers to understand the experience of the everyday citizen.

Defeating XDR-TB, disability and stigma: an ordinary call for extraordinary measures

Speaker: Phumeza Tisile, South Africa

Phumeza Tisile (South Africa) is an XDR-TB survivor and activist.

Phumeza Tisile was diagnosed with XDR-TB in 2011, after already having undergone TB and MDR-TB treatment. The side effects left her deaf, but she completed her treatment in August 2013 and since recovered her hearing through cochlear implant surgery.  Tisile has become a fierce advocate for better diagnosis and shorter TB treatment with fewer side effects.  She presented the first Drug-Resistant TB Manifesto at the 67th World Health Assembly in Switzerland and has spoken at numerous events, including the 2013 Union World Conference. In 2014, she was named one of the Mail & Guardian’s “200 Young South Africans”. 


Sunday, 6 December 2015: Plenary III

Panel discussion: Taxing health-harming products and creating health promotion funds: A win-win health strategy for governments
Moderators:Yussuf Saloojee (South Africa), José Luis Castro (France)                 


Kaul Singh Thakur (India) is Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Law and Revenue, Government of Himachal Pradesh, India.

Mr Kaul Singh Thakur is Health, Revenue and Law Minister for the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.  He holds BA and LLB degrees from Punjab University and began his political career more than 40 years ago.  In 1977 he was elected to the State Legislative Assembly and has been re-elected eight times.  During his distinguished career, he has served in posts focusing state planning, health and family welfare, parliamentary affairs and law, irrigation and public health, law and justice and urban development.  He became the Cabinet Minister with portfolios of Health and Family Welfare, Revenue and Law in December 2012.

Jeremias Paul (Philippines) is Undersecretary, Department of Finance, Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Jeremias N Paul Jr has held various positions in the Department of Finance since 1990, including Assistant Secretary of the International Finance Group and Undersecretary of the Corporate Affairs Group.  In 2005-2006, he served as Alternate Executive Director of the World Bank Group in Washington D.C. and spearheaded governance reforms in G-24 when the Philippines was Chair.  Currently he heads the Domestic Finance Group, leading the government initiatives to reform fiscal and tax systems, including the “Sin Tax Reform” law, which restructured the Philippine excise tax system for alcohol and tobacco products. He is also an internationally recognized expert in corporate governance and energy and water sector reforms. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015: Closing Session 

Speaker: Yvonne Chaka Chaka (South Africa)  

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is an internationally recognised and highly respected South African singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, global health advocate and humanitarian.  

Dubbed the “Princess of Africa,” Yvonne Chaka Chaka has been at the forefront of South African popular music for 30 years.  She was born in 1965 in Soweto and was the first black child to appear on South African television.  Her debut album, made at the age of 18, sold 350,000 copies. As her music career took off, so did her humanitarian work. Throughout her career, Chaka Chaka has used her music to raise awareness of and empathy for challenges facing people across South Africa and Africa.  She has been a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, as well as other causes and created the Princess of Africa Foundation in 2006. Forbes magazine has ranked her one of the top 10 most influential celebrities in Africa.