Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a preventable and treatable disease that causes breathlessness, chronic sputum production and cough. There are 300 million current cases of COPD in the world. COPD is currently the third leading cause of death globally and is highly prevalent in low resource countries. Exposure to tobacco smoke and other inhaled toxic particles and gases are the main risk factors for COPD, although recent research has identified that suboptimal lung growth before and after birth can also increase the risk of COPD later in life.
World COPD day, every 18 November, is a global campaign run by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), who along with The Union are members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS).
This year’s theme, ‘Living Well With COPD- Everybody, Everywhere’ sends a positive message to both patients and providers that although there is no cure for COPD, there are many ways to actively live well with the disease. This campaign aims to raise awareness for interventions like pulmonary rehabilitation, physical activity, self-management, and nutrition, as well as highlight the importance of social and mental well-being. Worldwide education on these types of services can help raise awareness and promote advocacy for patient access everywhere.
Initiatives to reduce the burden of COPD are taking place worldwide, including smoking-cessation programs, fighting against both indoor and outdoor air pollution, as well as examining childhood disadvantage factors. Although there is no current cure for COPD, actions to improve quality of life can take place anywhere by a variety of individuals in many types of settings. Employers can strive for safe breathing environments, citizens can be good stewards of air cleanliness, and both patients and families can help advocate for more research and better access to care, including pulmonary rehabilitation and mental health services. In addition, providers and policy makers can work together to improve access to spirometry, essential medications, and other treatments, including telehealth and other types of access for patients in remote settings.
Further information about GOLD and World COPD Day can be found at www.goldcopd.org