History & Philosophy of the Society
In Western Europe, which has an approximate population of 300 million, an estimate of new cases of tuberculosis in 1970 was about 150 thousand. The individual countries have met with varying degrees of success in the prevention of the disease. Although tuberculosis is no longer a major Public Health problem in Europe it remains a major cause of death among the infections and parasitic diseases. In recognising that freeing Europe from tuberculosis is the concern of all people in the region, laboratory workers engaged in Mycobacteriology decided to meet once a year to discuss their specific problems. The first meeting took place in 1980 in the Institut for Experimentelle Biologie und Medizin (Borstel, Germany). The European Society of Mycobacteriology (ESM) was thus born.
A significant number of students come to Europe each year to train in Mycobacteriology. It was felt that it might be useful if they all received some basic information and that this should not interfere with other kinds of teaching which they might receive in any Centre according to its professional and scientific profile. This important agreement follow the recognition that the prevention and control of TB in the region is intimately related to the improvement of the Laboratory Services worldwide.
Although TB is still of major concern, diseases caused by mycobacteria other than Mycobacterium tuberculosis must also be considered. Their correct diagnosis and an understanding of their epidemiology are thought to be necessary to develop the means of their treatment and prevention. The extent of the problem is not known, and laboratory workers should be aware of the mycobacterial species involved, if not to identify them, at least to know when to refer them to other laboratories for proper identifications.