FIRS attends United Nations hearing on universal health coverage

FIRS attends United Nations hearing on universal health coverage

Today, on 23 September 2019, the Forum of International Respiratory (FIRS) will attend the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC) held at the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting, ‘Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World’, brings together heads of state, political and health leaders, policy-makers, and UHC champions to advocate for health for all.

UHC is a call for more effective and universal medical care, where all people receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship

Universal coverage is particularly important to persons with respiratory disease. For example, a break in the supply of medicine for a patient with tuberculosis could cause the development of drug resistance, which carries serious consequences. The abrupt unavailability of asthma medicine could cause severe suffering and even death. Lack of health care provider availability usually means delay in diagnosis, which could be fatal for lung cancer patients.

Prior to the meeting FIRS presented comments, emphasising the following essential parts of UHC:

  1. UHC must mean effective and universal medical care, which starts with strengthening the healthcare workforce, a potential solution to many global health problems.
  2. Prevention is an essential part of UHC. Reducing risk factors, such as tobacco use and air pollution and promoting vaccinations, is effective, cost effective, and gives universal benefit. A new paper due to be released by FIRS soon shows that decreasing air pollution can benefit health in a surprising short time.
  3. The continuous availability and affordability of essential medicines is also part of UHC. Gaps in medicine for asthma can be life threatening and gaps in medicine for TB could cause a major societal problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

World Lung Day (WLD) is just two days away, therefore, this year on WLD we are raising awareness of the burden of respiratory disease, whilst advocating for UHC. WLD messaging is ‘Leave no one behind. On World Lung Day, we call for healthy lungs for all.’

Download the WLD toolkit.

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.