To reduce the global burden of respiratory diseases and tackle inequalities, the Forum of International Respiratory Studies and the American Thoracic Society suggested improving access to preventive services, inhaler therapies, and effective pneumonia vaccines.
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) announced this year’s World Lung Day theme, “Access to Prevention and Treatment for All. Leave No One Behind,” which calls for equitable access to preventive services and treatments for respiratory conditions worldwide, according to ATS.1
World Lung Day is observed each year on September 25, and this year fixated on equity, which ATS noted is at “the heart” of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Created in 2015, the United Nations’ agenda recognized “that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”2
Consequently, ATS President Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF, noted that this year's commitment to raising global awareness of lung health is especially crucial as 80% of noncommunicable disease–related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).1 She explained that there is a lack of equal access to preventive measures, like smoking cessation and effective inhaler therapies, to help manage lung health.
“The availability of inhaler therapies is far from the target of achieving 80% availability of essential medicines to combat non-communicable diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer,” Rivera said in a news release. “Moreover, health care access equity is crucial for respiratory infections, including tuberculosis. Through equal access to early detection, treatment can begin as soon as possible, effectively reducing the health burden of both respiratory infections and non-communicable respiratory conditions.”
To tackle these inequalities and reduce the global burden of respiratory diseases, FIRS suggested improving access to preventive services, inhaler therapies, and effective pneumonia vaccines.
Because smoking tobacco is often the leading cause of respiratory diseases and increases the risk of respiratory infections, ATS wrote that there should be global access to preventive services and smoking cessation aid. Effective smoking cessation services include education, counseling, and pharmacological interventions. To best prevent respiratory harm in children, ATS explained that tobacco smoke exposure should be reduced to improve children’s long-term lung health.
Also, according to a study published in The Lancet Global Health, effective and essential inhaled medicines used to treat COPD and asthma are often unaffordable and unavailable in LMICs.3 ATS noted that respiratory devices and inhaler therapies should be available to anyone in need, so collective global action is needed to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of 80% availability of essential medicines to treat major noncommunicable diseases.1
Lastly, FICS urged that focus is needed on improving access for all children to receive effective, affordable preventative pneumonia interventions. ATS noted that pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infection in children worldwide,1 as the International Vaccine Access Center reported that 738,974 children younger than 5 years die of it annually.4
Because of this, the ATS/FIRS statement explained that vaccinating children against pneumonia should be a priority.1 Consequently, access to newer vaccines, like the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), must be expanded, as Every Breath Counts, a coalition dedicated to supporting national governments in ending pneumonia deaths by 2030, reported that PCV could prevent the death of 1.6 million children under 5 years old by 2030.5
“Through World Lung Day 2023, FIRS is determined to take up the role of advocating equal access to prevention and treatment for respiratory diseases,” Rivera said. “We can reduce the global burden of respiratory diseases, leaving no one behind. But we need to act now.”1
1. Leave no one behind: the Forum of International Respiratory Societies calls for equitable access to prevention and treatment on World Lung Day 2023. American Thoracic Society. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://www.thoracic.org/about/newsroom/press-releases/world-lung-day-2023.php
2. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. United Nations. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://sdgs.un.org/2030agenda
3. Stolbrink M, Thomson H, Hadfield RM, et al. The availability, cost, and affordability of essential medicines for asthma and COPD in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review. Lancet Glob Health. 2022;10(10):e1423-e1442. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(22)00330-8
4. Pneumonia & diarrhea progress reports. International Vaccine Access Center. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://www.jhsph.edu/ivac/resources/pdpr/
5. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine scorecard 2022. Every Breath Counts. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://stoppneumonia.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Every-Breath-Counts-PCV-Scorecard.pdf