Today, on World Lung Day (WLD), the American Thoracic Society is united with members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and WLD partner organizations to advocate for respiratory health globally and call on policymakers to ensure that everyone has access to the services they need to improve their lung health.
Respiratory diseases impose an immense worldwide health burden. The facts are shocking:
- 65 million people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 3 million die from it each year, making it the third leading cause of death worldwide.
- 10 million people develop tuberculosis and 1.6 million die from it each year, making it the most common lethal infectious disease.
- 76 million people die from lung cancer each year, making it the deadliest cancer.
- 334 million people suffer from asthma, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. It affects 14 percent of children globally − and is rising.
- Pneumonia kills millions of people each year making it a leading cause of death in the very young and very old.
- 91 percent of the world’s population live in places where poor air quality exceeds WHO guidelines.
WLD, on Sept. 25, comes two days after the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). UHC calls for all people to receive the health services they need, when they need it, without suffering financial hardship. At least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services.
The global spotlight on UHC represents an opportunity for substantial progress in the fight against lung disease around the world. On WLD this year we are united in our message: ‘Leave no one behind. On World Lung Day, we call for healthy lungs for all.’
“UHC is particularly important to persons with respiratory disease. For example, a break in the supply of medicine for patients with tuberculosis could cause the development of drug resistance, which carries serious consequences. The abrupt unavailability of asthma medicine could cause severe suffering and even death. Lack of health care provider availability usually means delay in diagnosis, which could be fatal for lung cancer patients,” said Dean Schraufnagel, MD, executive director of FIRS.
FIRS calls for UHC action through:
- Strengthening health care workers.
- Prioritising prevention, namely tobacco, as well as air pollution, and vaccinations.
- Maintaining a continuous supply of essential medicines.
- Stemming antibiotic resistance
In addition, FIRS calls for these essential actions to reduce the burden of respiratory disease and improve global health:
- Increase awareness among the public and policy
- makers that respiratory health is a major component of global health.
- Reduce the use of all tobacco products through universal enforcement of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
- Adopt and require World Health Organization air quality standards to reduce ambient, indoor, and occupational air pollution for all countries.
- Promote universal access to quality health care, essential medicines, and immunisations.
- Improve early diagnosis of respiratory diseases through increasing public awareness of lung health and disease.
- Increase training of health professionals worldwide in respiratory disease.
- Standardise the monitoring and management of respiratory diseases with evidence-based national and international strategies.
- Increase research to prevent and treat respiratory diseases.
“We hope World Lung Day will provide an opportunity for action, conversation, and awareness. A unified voice of all dedicated to respiratory health will be a powerful force,” concludes Dr. Schraufnagel.
To learn more about World Lung Day go to our World Lung Day Toolkit.