The Union celebrates first ever World Lung Day

Today, 25 September, marks the first ever World Lung Day, a day of advocacy coordinated by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), of which The Union is a member, for all those affected by, and working to end, respiratory disease.

The global burden caused by respiratory diseases is considered so serious that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are under threat unless there is significant awareness-raising and improvement in the prevention and treatment of these diseases. In its recent report The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease, FIRS states clearly the need for better advocacy for lung health in order to convince policy makers and governments to scale up prevention and control programmes worldwide.

World Lung Day is therefore an international call to action. FIRS has launched a Charter for Lung Health, outlining principles such as the right to clean air and lung health for all, which individuals and organisations are asked to sign.

Global public health goals must prioritise lung health:

Every year, 65 million people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 3 million die from it, making it the third leading cause of death worldwide; 10 million people develop tuberculosis (TB) and 1.4 million die from it, making it the most common lethal infectious disease; 1.6 million people die from lung cancer, making it the most deadly cancer; 334 million people suffer from asthma, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood; pneumonia kills millions of people, making it a leading cause of death in the very young and very old.

 At least two billion people are exposed to toxic indoor smoke; one billion inhale polluted outdoor air; and one billion are exposed to tobacco smoke.

“While respiratory disease has a tremendous impact on the world’s population, it also is largely preventable,” said Dean Schraufnagel, MD, Executive Director of FIRS.

“Investing the resources necessary to prevent and cure these diseases is a cost-effective investment that benefits the entire world. Public policy makers in the healthcare sector need to recognise the size of the problem and take concrete steps now to improve global lung health.”

The Union’s President, Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, said:             

“At this year’s World Health Assembly, FIRS proclaimed that lung health should have a dedicated world day – much the same as TB, heart disease and almost every other chronic health issue – to raise awareness of the impact of respiratory diseases and create a moment in time that focuses world attention on these deadly disorders that disable, diminish and prematurely end so many lives. 

“On this inaugural World Lung Day we urge you to sign the charter for lung health and add your voice to ours in insisting to governments, health organisations, businesses and individuals that clean air and healthy lungs are an essential element of human health and central to all our futures.”

Support World Lung Day, sign the charter