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Call for global action on Chronic Respiratory Disease

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and HEAL member, the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases (EFA), brought together over 150 international delegates to discuss the growing epidemic of Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRD) that affects one billion people worldwide, and is responsible for four million deaths annually.

The conference, held in Rome in mid-June, discussed the implementation of a five-year initiative to unite policy makers, providers and patient groups. 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 examined 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.

One billion people in the world currently suffer from chronic respiratory diseases and 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 rise and that every person in the world is exposed to the risk factors of CRD5 has been the key motivator to bring together delegates from around the world to attend this important conference.

- HEAL and EFA Joint Initiative HEAL’s Information and Policy Officer, Gill Erskine, presented at the conference the updates to the EFA and HEAL joint air quality project – Know Your Air for Health-> The project aims to help communicate EU air quality information and alerts to allergy, asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Last year saw the launch of the website ( in three languages. This year will see an expansion of the site, with more languages available as well a further section on climate change and health.

The project’s policy arm will involve letters to national governments, sent by EFA members, questioning applications to the European Commission to extend the timeline to meet the air quality regulations and the availability of governmental advice to parents, schools and children on air quality. The responses from these letters will feed in letters to MEPs regarding the review of the air quality package in 2013. An update on progress will be available on the website -

Last updated on 10 June 2011

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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