Collective action to put a spotlight on lung health

Chair of the European Lung Foundation, Isabel Saraiva

29 August, 2018

As members of an international respiratory community, we are all concerned with reducing the burden of lung health across the globe. Raising awareness of the important measures that can be taken to prevent lung disease is a key part of this goal. We all have a role to play in this – whether we are advocating prevention messages to our patients, working alongside patient organisations, or ensuring our research findings are seen by the public.

ERS and the European Lung Foundation (ELF) support this goal through the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign – an important vehicle for delivering messages about prevention across the globe.

This year’s campaign will launch during the ERS Congress in Paris with a series of events run by ERS and ELF. The campaign does not end with the Congress – this is the start of a year long drive to galvanize the public through collective action across the globe.

The campaign provides a key opportunity, along with the necessary resources and materials, for members of the respiratory community to promote healthy lungs in their own communities. This is an invaluable opportunity for you to take the messages of the campaign and deliver them in your region.

As ELF Chair, I am calling on all ERS members, delegates of the ERS International Congress and members of the ELF Patient Network to take up the mantle and do what you can to put lung health in the spotlight as part of the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign. You can use our free resources and toolkits to deliver your own events and bring this powerful message to even more people around the world. You can visit www.healthylungsforlife.org for more information on this and to access our materials.

The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Breathe clean air’. This is a returning message to highlight the importance of the air we breathe. The importance of good air quality is one of my priorities during my time as ELF Chair. Clean air is no longer just a green or lifestyle issue – it has become a health issue. Good quality air is essential to have healthy lungs, especially for people living with lung conditions. Clean air means air free from pollution and smoke and messages concerning smoking cessation also feature strongly in our campaign.

The campaign will launch this year in Paris with a press conference, followed by a public lung testing event outside the Paris city hall on Friday 14–Saturday 15 September between 11:00–20:00. Alongside free lung tests, local patient organisation FFAAIR and smoking cessation experts will be on-hand to provide information and advice on lung conditions, clean air and stopping smoking.

This year will also see the second World Lung Day being held on 25 September. Organised by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), the day’s focus is the World Charter of Lung Health. The Charter calls on the WHO director-general and members of the World Health Assembly to ensure better lung health worldwide. You can contribute to this important day by signing the charter or you could also use this day as an anchor for your own Healthy Lungs for Life activities.

Collectively, we can bring lung health to the forefront of public consciousness. By spreading important messages about how to prevent lung disease through Healthy Lungs for Life events and activities, we can play a purposeful part in reducing the burden of lung disease.


About the author

Isabel Saraiva is the current Chair of the European Lung Foundation. She has a wealth of experience volunteering in the field of lung health following her own diagnosis with COPD, which impacted on her ability to continue in her role as Executive Director of the Portuguese Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry. Her formal involvement with ELF began at the 2013 ERS International Congress in Barcelona when she was invited to a working group focusing on developing the right package of care to offer people with COPD after they are discharged from hospital. As Chair of ELF, Isabel sits on the Executive Committee and Management group of the European Respiratory Society.