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WHO and EFA Call for Global Action on Chronic Respiratory Disease


12 Jun 2009


Health & Consumers

Call to reduce the four million deaths annually,

from a condition responsible for more fatalities globally than AIDS1

ROME, June 11 2009 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Federation of Allergy
and Airways Diseases (EFA) today announced that they are bringing together over 150 international
delegates to discuss the growing epidemic of Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRD) that affects one
billion people worldwide1,32, and is responsible for four million deaths annually. The conference which
will discuss the implementation of a five-year initiative to unite policy makers, providers and patient
groups will be hosted by the Italian Ministry of Health in Rome on June 12 and 13.

EFA and the WHO Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) are working for and
with respiratory disease patients for a world where everyone breathes freely. The conference will look
into the role of patient organisations and the implementation of the GARD Action Plan 2008-2013
within the framework of the WHO’s Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control
of Noncommunicable Diseases 2008-2013. The action plan shows that there is a clear need for
collaboration between health policy makers, providers and patient organisations to improve care and
the environment and the integration of health concerns into all policies4. By joining forces of European
patient associations through EFA with GARD, this major alliance has become a global influence
through a strong united patients’ voice in all five continents.

Presenting at the conference will be leading respiratory expert, Jean Bousquet, Professor of
Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Montpellier and Chairman of WHO GARD: “The burden of
allergy, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Europe and the rest of world is
such that the cost of inaction is unacceptable and the WHO has recognised the enormous human
suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, and are therefore making CRD one of its priorities
between 2008-13.”

Marianella Salapatas, Acting President, EFA: “Our overall message to policy makers and the new
European Parliament and Commission is that chronic respiratory diseases such as allergy, asthma
and COPD are public health problems and we therefore need innovative and comprehensive
strategies and collaboration, including with patient organisations, to fight against and improve care
and the environment.”

Italian MEP Cristina Muscardini will be contributing to the opening presentations: “In the EU, chronic
respiratory diseases are significant public health issues despite the availability of treatment options
and in some cases, prevention strategies. EU Health Strategy needs to take the burden on chronic
respiratory diseases into consideration.”

One billion people in the world currently suffer from CRDs1,, 23and every year four million people die as
a result, a figure higher than for deaths related to other global diseases such as AIDS. The fact that
this epidemic is on the rise4 and that every person in the world is exposed to the risk factors of
CRD5,,, 678has been the key motivator to bring together delegates from around the world to attend this
important conference.