Respiratory diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide, despite being preventable and economical to treat.
On World Lung Day (WLD), the European Lung Foundation alongside members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) are calling for respiratory health to be a top priority in global decision-making beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Global Impact of Respiratory Disease report launched today (25 September, 2021), despite cost-effective health interventions being available, respiratory diseases remain a leading cause of death and disability. Nearly 200 million people, or 4% of the world’s population, have COPD and 3.2 million die of it each year, making it the third-leading cause of death worldwide.
In the context of the current global COVID-19 pandemic it is easy to overlook the lethality and disabling impacts of ongoing respiratory illnesses. For example, even in a ‘normal’ year asthma affects more than 350 million people and is the most common chronic disease of childhood worldwide. Pneumonia kills more than 2.4 million people annually and is a leading cause of death among children younger than five and adults older than 65. More than 10 million people develop TB and 1.4 million die of it each year, making it the most common lethal infectious disease next to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 4.5 million people, largely from respiratory causes.
Lung cancer kills 1.8 million people each year. At least 2.4 billion people are exposed to indoor air pollution, and 90% of all people are breathing outdoor air that exceeds WHO guideline limits, especially in low- and middle-income countries, More than 1.3 billion people are exposed to tobacco smoke.
“It is urgent to place acute and chronic respiratory diseases on the high priority list of actions at every level and change the future of respiratory and general health worldwide”, says Mark Cohen, President FIRS 2021-2022.
“Interventions to prevent and treat respiratory diseases are among the most cost-effective available—a “best-buy” in the view of the WHO. Genuine investment in respiratory health will pay exponential dividends in longevity, healthy living days, and national economies.”
Significant progress on these issues will help to eliminate respiratory diseases from the top 10 leading causes of death in the world.
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