November 18th marks World COPD Day and the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is calling for governments to strengthen prevention and management strategies to reduce the burden of COPD.

FIRS includes the world’s leading international respiratory societies: the American Thoracic Society (ATS), American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), Asociación Latinoamericana De Tórax (ALAT), Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS).

According to the organization, COPD affects more than 200 million people globally and causes about 3 million deaths annually. COPD is the sixth major cause of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries, and it is projected to become the third cause of death by 2020. The economic burden is enormous—in the US alone, total costs for COPD were estimated to be about $50 billion in 2010.

FIRS is calling for:

  • Access to spirometry in low- and middle-income countries where the diagnostic tool is underutilized or not available;
  • Patient access to comprehensive treatment including smoking cessation programs, medication for symptom relief and prevention of exacerbations, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy as prescribed.
  • Good, quality medicine available at affordable prices to all patients.

“COPD can be prevented and treated,” says professor Michiaki Mishima, president of FIRS, “but we need to strengthen prevention through an accelerated implementation of the WHO FCTC and MPOWER to reduce the use of tobacco in all countries and at the same time improve diagnosis and treatment strategies globally.”

FIRS is launching its “Decade of the Lung” program, which will run from 2016 to 2025. During this program, the organization will contribute through a coordinated action to accelerate preventive and treatment strategies globally to benefit millions of patients and to reduce the burden of COPD.