On Inaugural World Bronchiectasis Day, International Lung Health Organizations Raise Awareness

    JULY 1, 2022 – In support of the first World Bronchiectasis Day, July 1, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, is joining the COPD Foundation and several global organizations in raising awareness and sharing information about this lesser-known lung disease.

    Bronchiectasis is a lung disease that affects hundreds of thousands of children and adults worldwide. In this illness the airways become enlarged or scarred, making it difficult to clear mucus properly, leading to recurring lung infections. Symptoms include frequent coughing (often with thick, discolored mucus), sputum production, breathlessness, repeat chest infections, increased tiredness, unexplained fever, chills, sweats and weight loss, and chest pain.

    Bronchiectasis is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia, but it is a chronic illness and one that places a burden on patients and their families. It can lead to impaired lung function, long-term disability, and premature death.  While bronchiectasis is often referred to as a rare disease, it is common in low and middle-income countries and prevalence is increasing globally.  In children, especially those in poor communities, bronchiectasis may occur following a lower respiratory tract infection, such as whooping cough or adenovirus infection, or pneumonia. Prevention of respiratory infections by immunization, promotion of good nutrition and reduction of exposure to smoke and other harmful particulates can help prevent bronchiectasis. Although there is currently no cure, detecting and treating bronchiectasis early can improve quality of life and improve long term health.

    To be recognized annually on July 1, World Bronchiectasis Day aims to raise global awareness of the disease and help those diagnosed with it and others who may be vulnerable, through education, advocacy, and a global conversation focused on reducing the burden of bronchiectasis for patients and their families worldwide.

    "By participating in World Bronchiectasis Day, partners are helping to increase global awareness of this disease, which significantly impacts patients and their families,” said Ruth Tal-Singer, President & CEO of the COPD Foundation and World Bronchiectasis Day founding partner.  “Although there is currently no cure for bronchiectasis, proper disease management, global education, and advocacy can reduce the burden on patients and help to identify others who are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.”

    “I’m proud of the FIRS involvement in raising awareness for bronchiectasis. This is something I work with every day, but it’s not one of the more common lung diseases. Because it is lesser known, patients often experience delays in diagnosis when they present with symptoms,” said Doreen J. Addrizzo-Harris, MD, FCCP, President-Elect for the American College of Chest Physicians, Professor of Medicine at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Director of the NYU Bronchiectasis and NTM Program. “With increased awareness comes quicker diagnoses and dedicated research which can lead to better treatment options and improved patient care.”

    Living with bronchiectasis can be an isolating experience, as a member of the European Lung Foundation’s Bronchiectasis Patient Advisory Group explains: “Almost everyone knows what asthma is but to explain bronchiectasis is not that easy – so I normally never do that and just say I have a lung disease. It was really difficult to find a lung physician who had real knowledge of bronchiectasis.” Annette Posthumus, the Netherlands.

    This year’s World Bronchiectasis Day will focus on raising awareness for the disease, with the following years focusing on treatment and the search for a cure.

    About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies
    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. 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.

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

    About World Bronchiectasis Day
    World Bronchiectasis Day, July 1, 2022, aims to raise global awareness of bronchiectasis and help those with the disease and others yet to be diagnosed through education, advocacy, and a global conversation focused on reducing the burden of bronchiectasis for patients and their families worldwide. www.worldbronchiectasisday.org.

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    FIRS addresses tobacco industry on World No Tobacco Day

    On World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2022) the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is voicing concerns over the tobacco industry’s impact on environmental health and ultimately lung health.

    The impact of tobacco production has been emphasized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme: #Tobacco Exposed. The WHO notes that 600,000,000 trees are chopped down to make cigarettes, 84,000,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions are released into the air, which raises global temperatures, and 22,000,000,000 litres of water are used each year to make cigarettes. These are significant examples of the burden tobacco production places on environmental resources.

    Manufacturing processes of tobacco are only one part of the issue, with distribution, consumption and post-consumption waste increasing the threat to the environment.

    According to Prof. Jonathan Grigg, Chair of the European Respiratory Society’s Tobacco Control Committee:

    “Tobacco kills more than 8 million people per year. It harms the environment in countless ways, but we see time and time again the tobacco industry trying to mislead or distort the significant threat their industry presents to our environment. It is very important that they are held accountable and that the realities of their business are not disguised by tactics developed to show them in a better light.”

    This strategy of repositioning is not new in the tobacco industry. In January 2022, FIRS issued a statement in response to the authorised takeover of the Vectura Group, a pharmaceutical company producing inhaled medicines, by Phillip Morris International, a tobacco company.

    “The takeover of Vectura by Phillip Morris was a huge disappointment and another example of blurring lines and repositioning. Here we see a company which produces tobacco – synonymous with negative effects on health, diversifying into healthcare. The potential implications are of great concern.'' stated Grigg.

    Alongside a call for the tobacco industry to be held accountable for its role in harming the environment, FIRS urges everyone to stay well informed about tobacco industry practices. FIRS supports the message that we should all strive to be greener and to stop smoking - and help others to stop smoking - to improve our health and the health of our planet.

     

    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. 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. 

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

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    Statement of support for Ukraine

    The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as the unfolding humanitarian disaster created by Russia’s invasion continues. We are deeply concerned about the impact on the health and wellbeing of communities in Ukraine and pledge our strong support to frontline workers, affected members, partner organisations and the 1,7 million people who have had to flee their homes.

    The displacement of thousands of people and the barrage of shelling that damages sanitation and health infrastructures create a humanitarian crisis with devastating health consequences, including exacerbating respiratory diseases that have already escalated due to COVID-19. 

    Ukrainian doctors and nurses have to postpone other care to focus on treating the wounded, despite the desperate shortages of essential hospital supplies, medicines and healthcare staff. WHO has warned that dangerously low oxygen reserves make it difficult to treat severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and growing numbers of patients with COVID-19.

    Compounding the risk to patients, critical hospital services are also jeopardized by power shortages, and ambulances transporting patients are in danger of getting caught in the crossfire. Thousands of lives are at risk. 

    As we witness the escalation of atrocities, we call on our members and the wider respiratory community to support humanitarian aid initiatives for the Ukrainian people wherever possible.

    Our FIRS partner, the European Respiratory Society, has collated a list of initiatives giving support to refugees, providing medical aid packages, supporting paramedics and doctors on the front line, and offering emergency responses to children.

    Please consider supporting one or more of these active humanitarian aid initiatives:

    Links to external sources of medical advice can be found in the ERS disaster medicine resource.

    Alongside this call for support, the European Respiratory Society is currently taking steps to suspend collaborations with Russian and Belarusian societies.

    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. 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. 

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

     

     

     

     

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