World Lung Day 2020: Lung Health Advocacy and Action - Institute for Respiratory Health

World Lung Day 2020: Lung Health Advocacy and Action

Thursday, September 24, 2020 | Community

September 25th marks World Lung Day, a day designed to highlight the burden of respiratory infections and chronic lung disease throughout the world.

On this day, 200 respiratory health organisations worldwide will be promoting this event.  The Institute of Respiratory Health is a member and, of course, fully supports the worldwide advocacy for people suffering from respiratory health problems.  

This is an initiative that marks a special day in the battle to help make lives easier for the sufferers of these incurable diseases. As a valued supporter of our activities, you will know that respiratory diseases are an ongoing concern, and the additional load of COVID19 infection is only making everything worse, particularly since we do not know whether there will be long-term lung health implications.

The continuing problem of respiratory diseases worldwide has recently been highlighted in a report published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Chronic Respiratory Disease Collaborators, the authors of this publication, report that, in 2017, 545 million people throughout the world suffered from a chronic respiratory disease, which represented the third leading cause of all deaths after cardiovascular disease and cancer.  The number of people dying from such diseases in 2017 was almost 4 million.  This is an increase of 18% since 1990, but the authors suggest that this relates to population growth and ageing.  If you take these into account, prevalence and death rates have actually dropped whilst absolute numbers continue to increase.  Australia is not immune; in the last 6 months chronic respiratory disease was the fourth leading cause of death after cancer, dementia and cardiovascular disease – almost 5,000 people died (excluding deaths from lung cancer).

The causes of such diseases remain the same as they have been for years, namely smoking (both direct and indirect), air pollution and the burning of biomass for heating and cooking. Most deaths were due to chronic obstructive disease, with prevalence greatest in high income populations compared to south Asia, but in this latter group, morbidity and mortality were higher. Chronic respiratory disease in men worldwide was influence by smoking, but in women, indoor and outdoor air pollution were most significant.  At the conclusion of this report, the collaborators indicate that, in comparison to other leading causes of death, either there remain yet to be determined risk factors, and/or that more resources are required to treat chronic respiratory diseases.

Further information may be found at: GBD Chronic Respiratory Disease Collaborators. Prevalence and attributable health burden of chronic respiratory diseases, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.

How you can help

This year, with respiratory health firmly in the spotlight, it is a great opportunity to raise awareness of lung health. You can share these pledges in support of #WorldLungDay.