Often labelled the ‘forgotten’ non-communicable disease (NCD), chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are the third leading cause of global mortality, resulting in four million deaths every year.
Some of the most common CRDs are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. Symptoms from these conditions can affect people daily and include wheezing, breathlessness, cough and mucus production.
Despite rising prevalence, CRDs have garnered limited public attention and research funding, especially in comparison with other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Addressing CRDs should be a strategic opportunity for all countries, regardless of income level. Doing so will be instrumental for countries to achieve their commitments as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to reduce mortality from NCDs by 30% by 2030, a goal that most countries are not on track to achieve.
Given commonalities across different CRDs, taking an integrated approach to lung health would enable governments to use resources efficiently. Progress is needed to improve preventive approaches, proactively identify people at risk of CRDs, tackle underdiagnosis, improve timely access to effective care, address underlying inequities and drive system changes that may ultimately tackle all CRDs simultaneously.