Home Press Releases On first World Lung Day, September 25, global coalition of respiratory health organizations issues recommendations to improve lung health

On first World Lung Day, September 25, global coalition of respiratory health organizations issues recommendations to improve lung health

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) has coordinated the first World Lung Day, September 25, which asserts that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals will not succeed without more attention to the burden of lung disease as outlined in their recent report The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease. FIRS calls for public support of respiratory health as a main action on World Lung Day.

“Respiratory diseases impose an immense worldwide health burden. Five of these diseases are among the most common causes of severe illness and death worldwide—COPD, asthma, acute lower tract infections, tuberculosis, and lung cancer. FIRS aims to raise awareness, improve prevention and control, and cure these diseases. Promotion of respiratory health must be a top priority in global decision-making in the public health sector. We hope World Lung Day will provide an opportunity for action, conversation, and awareness,” said Dean Schraufnagel, MD, Executive Director of FIRS.

Global public health goals must prioritize lung health:

  • More than 65 million people suffer from COPD, the third leading cause of death worldwide–and the numbers are increasing.
  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting 14% of children–and its prevalence in children is rising.
  • Tuberculosis is the most fatal infectious disease, with 10.4 million cases and 1.4 million deaths annually–and this disease should not be.
  • Lung cancer is the most common lethal neoplasm in the world–and the numbers are growing.
  • Pneumonia has been among the top causes of death for decades–and is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.
  • Sleep apnea affects more than 100 million people–up to 10% of adults in certain settings.
  • Occupational lung disease affects more than 50 million people–and workers continue to breath in sickening mineral dusts, bioaerosols, and fumes. 
  • Pulmonary hypertension occurs in 1% of the world’s population–and 10% of those over 65 years of age.
  • Pulmonary embolism has an incidence reported to be at 6-20 per hundred thousand–but this grossly underestimated.

The lungs are the front line of environmental exposure: 2 billion people are exposed to indoor smoke; 1 billion inhale outdoor polluted air; and 1 billion are exposed to tobacco smoke.

Emergency preparedness must be centered on the lungs as so many causative agents are disseminated through the air. For example, outbreaks of viral pandemics hit the lungs first, and most chemical and biologic weapons enter the body through the lungs.


About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organization consisting of the world’s leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally: the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), Asociación Latinoamericana De Tórax (ALAT), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union), Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), and Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its organizations and their more than 70,000 members globally. Learn more at firsnet.org.

Media Contact: Mike Hess, Communications Director, Forum of International Respiratory Societies, Michael.hess@med.wmich.edu

About the American College of Chest Physicians®
CHEST is the global leader in advancing best patient outcomes through innovative chest medicine education, clinical research, and team-based care. Its mission is to champion the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chest diseases through education, communication, and research. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000 members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. For information about the American College of Chest Physicians and its flagship journal CHEST®, visit chestnet.org.