World COPD Day, Nov. 16, is an annual global initiative run by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), a member of FIRS, to raise awareness of COPD worldwide.
The “Your Lungs For Life” campaign will raise awareness of contributing factors to COPD during all stages of life, as well as what can be done to promote lifelong lung health and protect vulnerable populations. From pre-natal care, staying active, reducing toxic exposures, maintaining good nutrition, and getting vaccinated, people can give their lungs the best chance of staying healthy for life.
COPD is a preventable and treatable disease that causes breathlessness, chronic sputum production and cough. COPD is currently one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is highly prevalent in low-income countries. It is estimated that three million people globally die each year due to COPD – a number which is expected to increase due to aging populations and continued exposure to risk factors like tobacco smoke.
Exposure to tobacco smoke and other inhaled toxic particles and gases are the main risk factors for COPD, although recent research indicates that COPD results from a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that occur over a lifetime. This significant development in COPD shows the importance of monitoring lung health from childhood to adulthood.
Initiatives to reduce the burden of COPD are taking place worldwide, including programs for smoking-cessation, tackling both indoor and outdoor air pollution, and examining childhood disadvantage factors.
Although there is no current cure for COPD, there are a host of simple actions we can all take to mitigate it. For example, employers can strive for safe breathing environments, citizens can be good stewards of air cleanliness, and both patients and families can help advocate for more research and better access to care, including pulmonary rehabilitation and mental health services.
In addition, providers and policy makers can work together to improve access to essential medications, telehealth and better access for patients in remote settings, and to make spirometry available – not only for diagnosis but also as a global health marker.
The goal of World COPD Day is to raise awareness and present new knowledge and novel therapeutic strategies for COPD worldwide. Learn more about the 21st annual World COPD Day and how to take part in events here.
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Fiona Salter [email protected].