Global Charter for Lung Health launched at World Health Assembly, with a call for World Lung Day

The Union’s José Luis Castro today launched the world’s first Global Charter for Lung Health at a side event at the World Health Assembly, attended by Uruguay’s Public Health Minister.

“The Charter will bring vital attention to lung health in the 21st Century, and promote greater awareness about the misery and burden of ill health that respiratory diseases cause worldwide every day,” said Mr Castro speaking at the event.

All those attending were encouraged to sign the Charter, and to also support a call for a World Lung Day on 25 September each year to help focus attention and resources on an often overlooked threat to global health.

During the event, an expert panel emphasised the global burden of lung disease and prevention strategies, including reduction in tobacco use, clean urban air and reducing the spread of infection.

Dr Jorge Basso, Minister of Public Health, Uruguay, spoke on the efforts made in Uruguay in the fight against tobacco, and how to meet the challenge of tobacco interference. He said:

“We need a very strong political will to face tobacco industry interference and there needs to be passion on behalf of civil society to build sustainability into the measures we are moving forward with. All these measures are strong and robust when people take ownership of them. Governments come and go, but the only thing that remains is the people when they take ownership of wanting to have a smoke free environment.”

Dr Carlos Dora, Coordinator, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke on WHO activities happening around the world to enhance the global response to improve air quality, and acknowledged that, “Leadership is crucial. FIRS, The Union and Vital Strategies are part of that.”

Thomas Matte, Vital Strategies’ Vice President for Environmental Health, discussed air pollution and plans for a number of scientific side meetings he is working on for The Union World Conference on Lung Health in Guadalajara later this year.

Dean E Schraufnagel, the Executive Director of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Illinois introduced the meeting and highlighted the findings of The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease, (PDF 4MB) a new report from FIRS that sets out the global burden of respiratory disease and shows that implementing strategies to improve lung health would help countries meet their objectives under the Sustainable Development Goals.

The meeting was sponsored by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, the International Society for Urban Health, the WHO Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases, The Union, Vital Strategies, and the NCD Alliance. And was moderated by Nandita Murukulta, Vital Strategies’ Vice President of Global Policy and Research.

The global charter is available at on the FIRS website

Download the full report: The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease, (PDF 4MB)