Charter for Lung Health
25 May 2017
Feeling the devastating impact of the global burden of suffering and deaths from lung disease,
Inspired by the impact of scientific and medical advances that are effective for preventing and treating lung disease,
Recognising the need for health and clean air with resultant benefits for the quality of life and well-being of individuals, and
Steadfastly committed to a global alliance of people living with lung disease, their family and friends, health-care workers, scientists, advocates, funders, industry, government, and the public working together to prevent and treat lung disease,
We, the signatories, commit to strengthening strategies to prevent, treat, and cure respiratory disease to attain optimal health, and we hold ourselves accountable to the following principles:
Lung health is a universal human need that is often impaired by unhealthy air. Recognizing the human right to breathe safe air and that lung health is pivotal to the well-being of individuals throughout the world,
The signatories to this Charter advocate for clean air and healthy lungs as a key component of human health and well-being, and for its global recognition.
The signatories further reaffirm Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states that every individual “has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care” and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to reduce death and illness due to pollution.
Under-recognition of lung disease is a significant challenge to achieving health around the world.
Lack of knowledge and awareness results in:
- Preventable deaths and hospitalisation
- Undue physical and emotional suffering to patients and their families,
- Reduced capacity for individuals to work and contribute to their families, communities, and countries,
- Escalating health care costs and suffering when diagnosis is delayed and treatment options limited, and
- Increasing financial burden to national health care budgets and expenditures.
The signatories to this Charter will actively work with people, health care stakeholders, and governments to raise awareness and understanding of lung health and available, effective, preventable, and treatment strategies.
Addressing preventable causes of lung disease is pivotal for the development and maintenance of healthy lungs. Poor lung health is a barrier to the economic and social development of nations. Better lung health will help nations reach the health goals determined by the United Nations and World Health Organization.
Preventable causes include environmental and behavioural exposures that impair an individual’s ability to develop and maintain healthy lungs. These include:
- Air pollution (both indoor and outdoor) and other environmental factors,
- Tobacco smoking,
- Workplace exposures to pathogenic dust and fibres,
- Over-crowding, malnutrition, lack of breastfeeding, poverty, and other factors that increase disease susceptibility and allow transmission of respiratory infections including inadequate access to vaccinations,
- HIV disease, and
- Pneumonia in early childhood
The signatories to this Charter will undertake work to better understand, and eliminate preventable lung disease, including effective interventions such as strengthened childhood immunisation globally,
promoting clean air, and supporting the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
The signatories highlight the importance of optimising child lung health as a precursor to lung health for life.
Every individual with lung disease should have access to effective management strategies. Barriers to care, especially in low and middle income countries, relate to:
- Inadequate global recognition of the burden and impact of acute and chronic lung disease,
- Cost of health care and insufficient national health expenditure and health policies,
- Lack of strong health systems and capacity or availability of appropriate health care providers, and
- Inequity in access to quality care due to poverty, stigma, distance, or cultural perception.
Optimal lung health care requires:
- Affordable access to effective preventive strategies,
- Timely access to appropriate treatments regardless of where a person lives,
- Adequate and organised health care systems, and
- Reduction of knowledge gaps by developing appropriate and affordable education and training for health care providers such as:
- Enabling evidence-based practice relevant to expectations of patients and their communities,
- Systematic training, educational programs and opportunities, and
- Implementing guidelines based on the best available evidence for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment of respiratory disease
The signatories to this Charter will actively develop and support activities that optimise the access of all people to effective lung health interventions.
Human health continues to improve with interventions that are the result of high quality research in public health, epidemiology, basic science, and clinical research. Each is critical for a coordinated approach to healthy lungs.
Research into lung health is uneven around the world. As a consequence, advanced research may have limited applicability in a low or middle income countries constrained by funding and resources and not well targeted to the varying needs of different communities. Further specific groups such as children, women, or ethnic minorities have often been overlooked in research.
Successful and beneficial research output is challenged by funding gaps, immature research infrastructure, workforce capacity, and poorly coordinated, unprioritised topics, as well as lack of awareness and participation.
The signatories to this Charter agree to support research into lung health that is ethical, inclusive, and high quality to achieve and maintain global lung health.
No nation is spared from lung disease, and no person, organisation, or country will conquer lung disease on its own.
A coordinated global approach, that promotes collaboration and networks, is needed to achieve global lung health through prevention, treatment, advocacy, and research strategies. We are all connected by the air we share.
The signatories to this Charter agree to:
Declare September 25 to be World Lung Day to ensure that the critical importance of lung health is recognised worldwide
Participate in a global alliance to support and report progress in lung health against the Articles in the Charter, and
Activate community and organisational support for the Charter by rallying 100,000 people around the world to sign the Charter for Lung Health, thereby demonstrating their willingness to support the right of every person to achieve and maintain lung health.
Signed the 25th day of May, 2017
Gerard Silvestri, MD
President, American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST)
Kwun Fong, MD
President, Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR)
Andres Palomar, MD
President, Asociación Latinoamericana de Tórax (ALAT)
Marc Moss, MD
President, American Thoracic Society (ATS)
Guy Joos, MD
President, European Respiratory Society (ERS)
Søren Erik Pedersen, MD
Chair, Board of Directors, Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA)
Alvar Agusti, Chair, MD
Chair, Board of Directors, Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)
Jeremiah Chakaya, MD
President, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union)
Heather Zar, MD
President, Pan-African Thoracic Society (PATS)