Chronic respiratory diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases, which affect the airways and lungs, impede the lives of over 454 million people worldwide.


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.

What we’ve achieved

HPP conducted desk research and is in the process of developing a policy report, with close guidance from a multidisciplinary group of international experts, to chart a feasible route forward to make progress on CRDs.

In November 2023, we published an infographic to raise awareness of the impact of CRDs and the need for policy action around the world.

This is part of a larger programme of work on respiratory diseases, which includes severe asthma and COPD.

Key partners and stakeholders

This project is supported by a multidisciplinary Steering Committee comprising 11 members from across the world.

Project funding

This project was initiated and funded by AstraZeneca, which commissioned The Health Policy Partnership to develop the policy narrative with insights from an expert steering committee. None of the experts involved in the steering committee were paid for their time.