Newswise — Experts from the world’s leading lung organisations have come together for the first time to call for a worldwide effort to improve healthcare policies, systems and care delivery to make a positive difference to the lung health of the world.

Produced by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), the report has been launched today on World COPD Day (20 November 2013), providing an overview of lung health across the globe.

Entitled Respiratory diseases in the world. Realities of Today – Opportunities for Tomorrow, the report features five major disease areas that are of immediate and greatest concern. These include COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

"We have long known that lung diseases have been under-recognized as leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide," says ATS President-elect Tom Ferkol, MD, the ATS representative on the writing committee. "Hopefully, this document will raise the profile of these conditions and compel decision-makers to action."

COPD is the only major disease that is increasing in prevalence worldwide and on all continents. The key element of reducing and controlling COPD is reducing and controlling tobacco use, which is best addressed through political and public health initiatives.

The report includes 10 key recommendations that FIRS considers to be essential to help reduce the burden of COPD and all respiratory diseases, such as reducing and eliminating the use of all tobacco products, improving early diagnosis of lung diseases, recognising and correcting the impact of malnutrition, and increasing policymakers’ awareness that respiratory health is vital for global health and, ultimately, national economies.

Past ATS President Dean Schraufnagel, MD, is senior reviewer/writer of the report, and serves as a representative of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. He also edited the ATS book Breathing in America: Diseases, Progress, and Hope, which is available here.

To download a full copy of the FIRS report, please visit:

About the American Thoracic SocietyFounded in 1905, the American Thoracic Society is the world's leading medical association dedicated to advancing pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. The Society’s 15,000 members prevent and fight respiratory disease around the globe through research, education, patient care and advocacy.

About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) was established in 2001, with members coming from a number of international societies, including Asociación Latinoamericana del Thorax (ALAT), the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), the American Thoracic Society (ATS), the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), the European Respiratory Society (ERS), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), and the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS). The forum aims to promote advocacy in matters of global respiratory health and the identification of new areas for global initiatives.