In support of World TB Day, 24 March, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) urges governments to promote tuberculosis (TB) prevention as a critical component of TB elimination.

    TB is the leading infectious disease killer worldwide, accounting for 1.5 million deaths in 2018 alone, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2019 Global TB Report. An additional 10 million people fell ill with TB in 2018.

    Despite significant progress against TB in recent years, many people struggle to receive the treatment and care they need for reasons ranging from gaps in research and development and insufficient or underfunded health services, to long and difficult treatments or because of stigma. In addition, a quarter of the world’s population is estimated to be living with TB infection, the bacteria that causes the disease. People with TB infection are estimated to have a 5-10 percent chance of developing the disease over their lifetime but TB preventive therapy reduces a person’s risk of developing active TB by 60 to 90 percent.

    The Sustainable Development Goals set a target to end the global TB epidemic by 2030 and at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018, world leaders committed to reaching at least 30 million people with preventive therapy by 2022. To do this, governments must ensure people have access to diagnosis and appropriate care at the earliest stage after exposure to TB and ensure populations at higher risk of developing TB, such as young children and people living with HIV, are pro-actively treated with preventive measures.  

    FIRS calls for urgent action to advance TB prevention through rapid scale up of access to preventive treatment for TB infection for those most at risk of falling ill of TB including:

    • Four million children under five years of age
    • 20 million other household contacts of people affected by TB
    • Six million people living with HIV and AIDS.

    “Globally, we are falling short of targets”, said Dr. Grania Brigden, Director of the TB Department at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) a FIRS founding member. “Only 27 percent of children who were eligible for preventive treatment in 2018 actually received it, and 49 percent of people newly enrolled in HIV treatment received TB preventive treatment.”

    Dr. Grania Brigden concludes, “This is an area which has long been neglected. By offering preventive therapies to those who need it we are not only preventing them from experiencing the long treatments for TB but we are also preventing future lung damage and ensuring people and their families can remain TB free.”

    Rapid scale up of TB prevention measures must be a priority element in national TB eradication strategies.

    About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)

    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: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), 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), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)

    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.

     



    Updated 27 March 2020. 

    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.

    Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

    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?

    There are currently no vaccines for COVID-19. 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.

    Resources from FIRS Societies

    Our international respiratory societies have produced materials for all on COVID-19, click below to view:

    Keep updated with the very latest information from:


    Reductions in air pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, according to findings in “Health Benefits of Air Pollution Reduction,” new research published in the American Thoracic Society’s journal, Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

    The study by the Environmental Committee of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking. Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 percent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 percent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 percent reduction in stroke, and a 38 percent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

    “We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive.,” said lead author of the report, Dean Schraufnagel, MD, ATSF. “Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately.” 

    In the United States, a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half. School absenteeism decreased by 40 percent, and daily mortality fell by 16 percent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease. Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

    A 17-day “transportation strategy,” in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution. In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 percent and trips to emergency departments by 11 percent. Hospitalisations for asthma decreased by 19 percent. Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

    In addition to city-wide polices, reducing air pollution within the home also led to health benefits. In Nigeria, families who had clean cook stoves that reduced indoor air pollution during a nine-month pregnancy term saw higher birthweights, greater gestational age at delivery, and less perinatal mortality.

    The report also examines the impact of environmental policies economically. It highlights that 25 years after enactment of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. EPA estimated that the health benefits exceeded the cost by 32:1, saving 2 trillion dollars, and has been heralded as one of the most effective public health policies of all time in the United States. Emissions of the major pollutants (particulate matter [PM], sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and lead) were reduced by 73 percent between 1990 and 2015 while the U.S. gross domestic product grew by more than 250 percent.

    Given these findings, Dr. Schraufnagel has hope. “Air pollution is largely an avoidable health risk that affects everyone. Urban growth, expanding industrialization, global warming, and new knowledge of the harm of air pollution raise the degree of urgency for pollution control and stress the consequences of inaction,” he says. “Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks. Local programs, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures.”

    Download the full PDF of the study here.

    Contact for media This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)
    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: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), 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), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

    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.

     


    WLD logo final large

    The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) would like to thank all organisations who have pledged to support World Lung Day (WLD).

    WLD falls on 25th September and is a day to rally advocacy for respiratory health and air quality globally. You can see the full list of organisations supporting WLD 2020 below.

    No signed up yet?

    If you would like to support WLD please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    View WLD partner logos below or view the World Lung Day partner list.

    The 2020 WLD toolkit will be available soon. 


    A new report launched today calls policy-makers and political leaders to urgently implement cost-effective actions to achieve quick results for cleaner air.

    Air pollution is a public health emergency, not only in Delhi, India but for 90 percent of us worldwide who live in areas of dangerous air pollution, which breach the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines. Measures to tackle air pollution deliver rapid results for health as well as co-benefits for the climate.

    The report “Clean Air Now”, co-authored by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and the NCD Alliance (NCDA), is released today to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) taking place in Madrid (Spain) from 2nd-13th December 2019.

    The report includes examples from every continent of measures taken to rapidly reduce air pollution, including in Olympic host cities, and shows how quickly benefits are realised for health. After the introduction of clean air measures, significant health benefits can be observed within just a few weeks, for example in reduced hospital admissions. Over the longer term, benefits of clear air measures include significant increased life expectancy, fewer premature births, fewer heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and early deaths.

    “We knew that controlling air pollution would result in better health, but the promptness of major benefits was surprising,” said Dean Schraufnagel, Executive Director of FIRS and lead author of the paper.

    Nina Renshaw, Director of Policy and Advocacy at NCD Alliance added: “Governments everywhere should roll out clean air policies urgently to tackle this global health emergency. Measures to tackle pollution pay for themselves many times over, in terms of lives saved and reduced costs for our health services, and are also measures to prevent climate breakdown and worsening health impacts of an overheating planet.”

    Air pollution penetrates and affects nearly every organ in the body, as well as our mental health and wellbeing. It is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over seven million people die prematurely every year from exposure to polluted air. Most air pollution, and the associated health impacts and premature deaths, are preventable.

    The report makes a series of recommendations, including:

    • Adopt and strictly enforce emission standards for all pollutants in all relevant sectors, including industry, energy, transport, waste and agriculture.
    • Include air quality measures in urban, rural and transport planning at city, regional and national level, including measures to encourage modal shift and active mobility, noting the additional benefits to health and wellbeing, the curbing of climate change, and the reduction of health inequalities.
    • Rapidly phase our health-harmful subsidies for fossil fuels and polluting industries and introduce penalties for polluters and/or taxes on pollution.
    • Redirect investment to health-promoting, accessible alternatives including clean transport and renewable energy, and towards the provision of universal health coverage.
    • Improve housing conditions and ensure access to clean energy sources for indoor cooking, heating and lighting.

    Download the report in English. 

    Download the report in Spanish.

    Read the "The Health Benefits of Air Pollution Reduction" study.

    Contact for media This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)
    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: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), 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), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

    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.

     


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