Patrick J Dunne, MEd, RRT, FAARC
Governor, USA; Member Executive Committee
World COPD day this year (November 20, 2013) was marked by the release of a very important advocacy report that highlighted the worldwide human and economic toll of acute and chronic respiratory diseases. The Report, titled “Respiratory Diseases in the World: Realities of Today—Opportunities for Tomorrow,” was prepared and published by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), a non-profit advocacy group established in 2002. The FIRS includes members from all major international respiratory societies, most notably the Associacion Latinoamericana del Thorax, the European Respiratory Society, the American Thoracic Society, and the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology. The stated goal of FIRS is to advocate for improvement in global respiratory health. A complete copy of the Report is available.
The FIRS Report presents a very disturbing picture of the impact of all forms of respiratory diseases globally, but, I hasten to add, nothing that comes as a complete surprise to readers of this e-newsletter. In the area of chronic conditions, the Report correctly identifies asthma and COPD as being the most prevalent and also having the worst outcomes in terms of morbidity, mortality, and cost. The two are closely followed by other major chronic respiratory conditions—sleep disorders, pulmonary hypertension and tuberculosis. And, the prevalence of chronic respiratory conditions continue to increase. The Report also describes the high rate of mortality, morbidity and cost associated with certain acute respiratory conditions. For example, in many areas of the world, the lack of immunizations and basic public health measures contribute to rampant and often deadly respiratory infections. The growing economic and human burden of poor lung health is truly an international challenge, and unfortunately, no country appears to be immune.
The FIRS Report offers a list of ten “essential actions” it believes necessary to address the growing poor lung health crisis. As I summarize the list, most of the recommendations will again come as no surprise to readers of this e-newsletter. The list begins with the need to increase awareness of both public and governmental stakeholders of the crisis posed by poor lung health; to improve access to basic element of good lung health, including preventative care, immunization, medication reconciliation, and rehabilitation; to decrease tobacco use and reduce indoor/outdoor airborne pollution; to increase research to better prevent and treat respiratory diseases, and finally, essential action # 9—Increase education and training of health professionals in respiratory disease worldwide (emphasis added). You might imagine the feeling of deja vu I experienced when first reading the Report and then the list of essential actions, when I quickly realized how similar the contents of the FIRS Report were to the goals of the ICRC.
Now, the more I re-read and thought about the Report, the more I started wondering if there would be any value of having the ICRC approach the FIRS for a possible collaboration—perhaps even membership on the Forum? For example, they might like to know all about our International Fellow Program, which has become a major global vehicle for increasing education and training of health professionals in all aspects of respiratory care. Further, it might help them to know how member countries of the ICRC (alone or in consort with neighboring countries) organize, disseminate and promote the latest information on high quality, evidence-based respiratory care practices. We could also share the significant accomplishments member countries have made in establishing the legal recognition of respiratory care, developing entry and advanced level and continuing educational training programs, including accreditation and legal credentialing. I do believe once alerted to these accomplishments, FIRS might begin to view the ICRC as a valued partner in pursuing its stated goals.
At this time, I would be interested in receiving a personal e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) letting me know how you feel about such an idea. Based upon the level of support that I receive, I would be prepared to take such a proposal to the next step. So please, take time to download and read the Report, and let me know your thoughts. This might be the right time for ICRC to explore developing some new alliances to help with our goal of promoting the globalization of high quality, cost-effective respiratory care.