The 43rd Union World Conference on Lung Health to highlight the global burden of lung disease

November could be dubbed the “lung health month” this year, with advocates organising World Pneumonia Day on 12 November, World chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Day on 14 November and the whole month designated by some groups as Lung Cancer Awareness month.  Yet people are largely unaware of their lung health, according to Dr Nils E Billo, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). “Lung health is as central to health as blood pressure or weight, but most people are unaware of their lungs until something goes wrong”.

From 13th to 17th  November, 3,000 lung health experts and advocates from around 35 countries of the world will come together at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to discuss the latest opportunities and challenges in the fight against lung diseases, including COPD, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung cancer and asthma which cause some 10 million deaths each year. The 43rd Union World Conference on Lung Health, organised by The Union, is the largest annual meeting focusing on lung health issues as they affect the low- and middle-income countries, where 80% of lung-related deaths occur. This year’s theme is “Driving Sustainability through Mutual Responsibility”, highlighting the need for the health care community, governments, donors, civil society and patient advocacy groups to work together to sustain progress and reach international targets for lung health.

The key challenges that will be discussed at the conference include the rising incidence of drug-resistant tuberculosis, including the threat of an incurable totally drug-resistant TB; the need for simultaneous treatment of the  estimated 1.1 million new TB patients with HIV in 2011; the increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is predicted to become the 3rd leading cause of death by 2030 – and how to reduce the impact of its major risk factor--tobacco use; the neglect of childhood lung diseases: including pneumonia (the leading killer of children under 5); childhood TB (widely undiagnosed, treated and monitored), asthma (poorly funded despite being the most common chronic condition among children); and acute lower respiratory tract infections (often caused by indoor air pollution from solid fuel used inside for cooking, heating and light); and above all the  pandemic of diseases caused by tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death that kills close to 6 million people each year (including 600,000 who die from second-hand smoke).

Citizen News Service-CNS