At Friday’s General Assembly, held at The Union World Conference in Liverpool, Union members voted for the biggest change to the membership structure in The Union’s 96 years.
In April 2015, sparked by feedback from members, The Union Board launched an 18 month review of the current membership structure and fees. The consultation process established the need to restructure organisational membership fees and the membership voting process, while ensuring that The Union honours long-standing, committed organisations.
This review involved all members, and the resulting recommendations were approved at the April Board meeting. At the General Assembly, Union members voted in these recommended changes to membership structures, fees and benefits.
Under the new structure, long-standing member organisations will be recognised with the title Heritage member and will receive more voting power than other organisations. From next year (allowing time for eligible former member organisations to re-join), no new organisations will receive this title.
The review also found that the balance of votes between organisations and individuals needed to be addressed. As a result, member voting has been restructured to provide voting equality between individuals and organisations
Membership structure will be reviewed every five years, and evaluated to see whether it continues to be the most appropriate system for The Union and its members.
Members voted for The Union Constitution and Bye-laws to be modified to reflect these changes.
During the General Assembly, Union President Dr Jane Carter, announced a new initiative designed to encourage the career development of young researchers in key scientific areas. The President’s Research Awards Programme will provide one grant per region and one award for Nursing and Allied Professionals, and will be available to Union members who are under 40. First awards applications are planned in 2017.
Also at last night’s General Assembly, long-standing Union member – Prof Christopher Kuaban- received Honorary Member status. This lifetime status is granted to individuals who have become distinguished through active participation in The Union’s activities and the fulfilment of its goals. Honorary Members serve as informal advisors to The Union on a wide variety of issues.
Prof Kuaban has played a significant role in the development of the National Tuberculosis Programme in Cameroon for more than 20 years. He successfully launched a modern TB control programme in 1996 where previously there had been limited drugs, diagnostic and reporting.
He has also been a pioneer in the fight against MDR-TB. In 2008, he demonstrated great courage in launching an observational study using a 12-month regimen, very similar to the Bangladesh regimen. This was a time when very few people thought it was possible to reduce the length of MDR-TB treatment. That 12-month study served to convince the other countries of Francophone Africa to join in the nine-month observational study. This was all crucial evidence leading to the World Health Organization’s recommendation earlier this year for a nine-month regimen.