2018 Press Releases

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Let’s Unite on World Lung Day and Call for Global Lung Health Action

(Sept. 25, 2018) --Today on World Lung Day, people affected by and working against respiratory disease, come together for lung health action.
Too often we take breathing for granted. World Lung Day, on Sept. 25, is an opportunity for us all to unite and advocate for better lung health globally. Organisations and individuals from around the world have joined the campaign, to shine a spotlight on the alarming statistics, and to hold their own lung health events.

The facts are shocking: 

  • 65 million people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 3 million die from it each year, making it the third leading cause of death worldwide.
  • 10 million people develop tuberculosis and 1.8 million die from it each year, making it the most common lethal infectious disease.
  • 1.6 million people die from lung cancer each year, making it the deadliest cancer.
  • 334 million people suffer from asthma, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. It affects 14 percent of children globally − and rising.
  • Pneumonia kills millions of people each year making it a leading cause of death in the very young and very old.
  • At least 2 billion people are exposed to toxic indoor smoke; 1 billion inhale polluted outdoor air; and 1 billion are exposed to tobacco smoke.
  • Passive smoke exposure also leads to respiratory disease. Since 1964, about 2.5 million non-smokers died from health problems caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.

“While respiratory disease has a tremendous impact on the world’s population, it is also largely preventable. Investing the resources necessary to prevent and cure these diseases is a cost-effective investment that benefits the entire world. Public policy makers in the healthcare sector need to recognise the size of the problem and take concrete steps now to improve global lung health.” said Dean Schraufnagel, MD, executive director of FIRS.

FIRS call for these essential actions to reduce the burden of respiratory disease and improve global health: 

  1. Increase awareness among the public and policy makers that respiratory health is a major component of global health;
  2. Reduce the use of all tobacco products through universal adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
  3. Adopt World Health Organization air quality standards to reduce ambient, indoor, and occupational air pollution for all countries;
  4. Promote universal access to quality health care, essential medicines, and immunisations;
  5. Improve early diagnosis of respiratory diseases through increasing public awareness of lung health and disease;
  6. Increase training of health professionals worldwide in respiratory disease;
  7. Standardise the monitoring and management of respiratory diseases with evidence-based national and international strategies; and
  8. Increase research to prevent and treat respiratory diseases.


“We hope World Lung Day will provide an opportunity for action, conversation, and awareness. A unified voice of all dedicated to respiratory health will be a powerful force,” concludes Dr. Schraufnagel.


To learn more about World Lung Day go to our World Lung Day Toolkit.

 All quoted statistics are from The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease report 2017.