Skip to content


Leave No One Behind: The Forum of International Respiratory Societies Calls for Equitable Access to Prevention and Treatment on World Lung Day 2023

NEW YORK, NY -- This World Lung Day, Sept. 25, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and its founding member the American Thoracic Society, is calling on governments and health care providers worldwide to give equitable access to preventative services and treatments for respiratory conditions, and lifesaving pneumonia vaccines for children.

The theme for this year’s World Lung Day is “Access to Prevention and Treatment for All. Leave No One Behind,” reflecting the commitment to equity that is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This commitment is especially crucial given that 80 percent of non-communicable disease-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This huge health burden could be prevented by implementing cost-effective interventions, such as vaccination against pneumonia and improved access to preventative services and inhaled medicines.

"World Lung Day 2023 is one of the best opportunities to raise global awareness of lung health," says ATS President M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF.

"The challenge to respiratory health, especially in LMICs, is evident. There is a clear lack of equal access to preventive measures, such as smoking cessation and effective inhaler therapies for managing asthma and COPD.

“The availability of inhaler therapies is far from the target of achieving 80 percent availability of essential medicines to combat non-communicable diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Moreover, health care access equity is crucial for respiratory infections, including tuberculosis. Through equal access to early detection, treatment can begin as soon as possible, effectively reducing the health burden of both respiratory infections and non-communicable respiratory conditions."

FIRS has identified three key target areas to tackle inequalities in the fight against respiratory disease: Improving access to preventative services and stop-smoking treatments, expanding access to inhalation therapies and strengthening access to effective pneumonia vaccines for children. Despite global progress in pneumonia vaccine access, 40 percent of infants are still left behind.

To reduce the global burden of respiratory diseases, it's crucial to take action in these key areas.

Access to preventative services and stop-smoking treatments

  • Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and asthma, and increases the risk of respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke harms children even before birth. Reducing exposure to tobacco smoke helps improve children’s long-term lung health.
  • Educational, counselling, and pharmacological interventions for smoking cessation are effective. They should be available for anyone who smokes.

Expanding access to devices and inhalation therapies

Access for all children to effective, affordable preventive interventions for pneumonia

“Through World Lung Day 2023, FIRS is determined to take up the role of advocating equal access to prevention and treatment for respiratory diseases. We can reduce the global burden of respiratory diseases, leaving no one behind,” said Dr. Rivera, “But we need to act now.”

Further information

  • Join the Forum of International Respiratory Societies’ World Lung Day webinar on “Access to Prevention and Treatment for All” on September 25th at 1pm CET. Register here.
  • Visit the World Lung Day toolkit for more on events, graphics, resources and sign up to be a World Lung Day Partner.
  • The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease report outlines major causes of respiratory disease, including lung cancer, and lays out recommendations for global action.