On World Lung Day, we call for action to tackle global inequity in respiratory health

    On World Lung Day, 25 September 2022, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) calls on governments worldwide to address stark global inequalities in respiratory health.

    The COVID-19 pandemic may have subsided, but its impact highlights a global lung health crisis that has not gone away.

    Respiratory illnesses affect people in all countries, but disproportionally in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where resources for research, prevention, and management are scarce. To address such inequity, we must look beyond medical care to the social and environmental determinants of health such as tobacco use, air pollution, climate change and poverty.

    Five respiratory diseases are the commonest causes of illness and death worldwide - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, acute respiratory tract infection or pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB) and lung cancer.

     The FIRS  Global Impact of Respiratory Disease report shows the immense burden of these lung diseases:


    • An estimated 200 million people have COPD, of which about 3.2 million die each year, making it the third-leading cause of death worldwide.



    • With more than 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer in 2020 and 1.80 million deaths, globally, lung cancer is responsible for 1 in 4 cancer deaths.


    • Lower respiratory tract infection or pneumonia is a leading cause of mortality, accounting for more than 2.4 million deaths every year, particularly among those in LMICs. COVID-19 has dramatically increased deaths from pneumonia globally.


    • In children under 5 years of age, pneumonia is the leading single cause of death outside the neonatal period.


    FIRS asks that governments, health care workers and researchers focus on three key issues to help reduce respiratory health inequalities:

    • The global burden of the major respiratory diseases and the impact of COVID-19;
    • The importance of early detection and screening;
    • Reducing inequalities in screening, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of lung conditions.

    FIRS President Professor Heather Zar said:

    “The theme for this World Lung Day is Lung Health for All. That’s why we are calling on governments worldwide to work together to build equitable capacity, infrastructure, and resources.

     “COVID has highlighted global inequities in access to effective strategies for respiratory health. We have very effective interventions to prevent and treat respiratory diseases, but these are unavailable or unaffordable in many parts of the world.  Reducing inequality requires an integrated approach which incorporates social, environmental, economic and medical initiatives. We have effective interventions – but we must use these more equitably.”


    Media contact: Fiona Salter This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    Further information

    The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease report outlines major causes of respiratory disease, including lung cancer, and lays out recommendations for global action.

    FIRS Lung Health Fact Sheet is a quick reference guide to the impact of the ‘Big Five’ respiratory diseases.

    Join us for the first Forum of International Respiratory Societies/ World Health Organization joint World Lung Day webinar - Respiratory disease in the era of COVID – a global perspective on 22 September, 14:00 - 15:30 CEST. Register here https://bit.ly/FIRSWHO


    About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies
    The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organisation comprised of the world's leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally. The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than 70,000 members globally.


    FIRS comprises the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), Asociación Latino Americana De Tórax (ALAT), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union), Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

    [i] https://www.thelancet.com/pb-assets/Lancet/gbd/summaries/diseases/asthma.pdf


    [ii] https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240037021






    FIRS COVID-19 Statements/News

    28 October 2022
    WHO launches Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator plan as world transitions to long-term COVID-19 control. Read more here.

    5 March 2021
    FIRS signed the World Health Organisation (WHO) Vaccine Equity Declaration to ensure that vaccination of health workers and those at high risk of COVID-19 begins in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021.

    2 February 2021
    Protect yourself and other by getting your COVID-19 vaccine. Read here

    17 December 2020
    FIRS calls for global access to effective, affordable vaccines. Read statement here

    6 July 2020
    We must continue to be vigilant to control the spread of COVID-19. Read the statement here

    17 April 2020
    FIRS urging governments around the world to continue supporting the WHO. Read the statement here

    COVID-19 resources from FIRS societies

    Our international respiratory societies have produced some excellent COVID-19 materials, view the latest materials by society:


    The World Health Organization (WHO) describe coronaviruses as a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been identified in humans before.

    What are the symptoms?

    • Mild symptoms are cold-like in presentation-- including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
    • Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease. In these more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

    How can coronavirus be prevented?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

    WHO also recommends avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking eggs and meat.

    Keep updated with the very latest information from:

    World Lung Day Partner Events

    Our World Lung Day partners are respiratory societies, patient organisations, individuals and businesses spreading the message of lung health around the world. Here's how they are celebrating World Lung Day.

    Minister joins crowds at lung health event in Maldives

    Minister Aishath Nahula joins a busy social event on lung health and vaccination to mark World Lung Day in the Maldives. 

    A national day for respiratory health in Italy - Società Italiana di Pneumologia


    For Italy's National Lung Day Società Italiana di Pneumologia is organising regional events, entertainment and information days in public squares and medical clinics nationwide.

    See more at: www.sipirs.it

    3.6 million steps for the Turkish Respiratory Society 

    TRS launched its respiratory health campaign on the 52nd anniversary of the society's foundation with the message "We Walk with Endless Breath for a Healthy Future" to raise awareness about lung health and respiratory diseases. From it's curtain-raiser on World Lung Day to the finish on World COPD Day (16 November), the goal for participants is to have walked 3.6 million steps.

    Find out more: Turkish Respiratory Society

    Irish Lung Health charities are urging the public to “Love Your Lungs”

    Ahead of World Lung Day on Sunday September 25,  a coalition of Irish Lung Health charities is urging the public to “Love Your Lungs”. The charities include the Alpha-1 Foundation Ireland, the Asthma Society of Ireland, COPD Support Ireland, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, the Irish Institute of Clinical Measurement Physiologists, the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association, the Irish Sleep Society, and the Irish Thoracic Society.

    Find out more: Irish Thoracic Society

    Healthy Lungs for Life : testing lung health in Barcelona

    Great to see people in Barcelona wanting to learn more about their lung health at this Healthy Lungs for Life spirometry event organised by the European Lung Foundation (ELF). 

    The Healthy Lungs for Life campaign is run by the ELF and the European Respiratory Society (ERS). The campaign is aimed at everyone whether you have a lung condition or not. It focusses on key themes to raise awareness of the best ways we can keep our lungs healthy.

    Spreading the word among doctors and professionals in Bangladesh

    The Bangladesh Lung Foundation is celebrating World Lung Day with workshops on chest radiology and a poster campaign to create awareness among doctors and other health care providers about lung health.

    Find out more: Bangladesh Lung Foundation

    Healthy Lungs Nepal: flash mobs to video memes

    Community awareness events, video competitions and flash mobs are just some of the creative ways Healthy Lungs Nepal celebrates World Lung Day.

    Philippine College of Chest Physicians celebrate for a month

    Healthy Lungs for All Filipinos! A video for National Lung Month and World Lung Day made by the Philippine College of Chest Physicians. Keep a look out for the dancing doctors!

    The Pan African Thoracic Society Lung Health Initiative

    See more information here.

    The Pan African Thoracic Society Lung Health Initiative (PALI) is supporting 10 events, taking place in seven countries, providing training to healthcare workers, education to the public, lung function testing, exercise promotion, TB screening, and smoking cessation assistance on WLD 2022.

    Bangladesh: Rangpur lung health workshop 

    In Rangpur, a popular workshop for World Lung Day at the Government Begum Rokeya College.

    Primary Care Respiratory Society conference joins our call for lung health for all

    Ahead of World Lung Day the Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS) - a UK-wide professional society - conference joined together to show their support for better lung health for all.

    Page 4 of 26