Leading experts from China and overseas urged more efforts be made across the globe to fight chronic respiratory diseases, which have become a major public health threat that deserves more attention, they said.
The Beijing Call to Action for lung health promotion was released by the Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases and the World Health Organization over the weekend in Beijing.
The statement "call (s) on national governments, healthcare professionals and partner organizations to scale up the prevention, diagnosis, management, monitoring and research on chronic respiratory diseases, and promote lung health."
Wang Chen, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, said the Beijing Call to Action is the first action call released by the WHO on respiratory diseases.
"Its release is of milestone importance to the prevention and control of the diseases," Wang said. "It advocates coordinated efforts on the prevention and control of the diseases at the global level and calls for integrating disease control and prevention into all policies."
Compared with other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer, chronic respiratory diseases have not gained enough attention throughout the world, including in China, he said.
However, chronic respiratory diseases have become a top killer in many countries. Among the top 10 killer diseases globally, four are related to respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and tuberculosis, Wang said.
Yang Weizhong, deputy president of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, said respiratory diseases have become a top health burden in China, and many people with the diseases have not been diagnosed. It is estimated 55 million people in China have asthma, and lung cancer has become the most common cancer across China. Globally, about 5 percent of all deaths are attributed to respiratory diseases, he said.
"Chronic respiratory diseases are really the No 1 public health problem," said Nikolai Khaltaev, president of the Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases. "They are neglected diseases, and we should improve people's awareness of these diseases ... and bring down mortality caused by the diseases."
Wang said fighting respiratory diseases has been highlighted in China's latest national health promotion strategy, which includes reducing the percentage of adult smokers to 20 percent by 2030, from the current level of around 27 percent.
"In addition to tobacco control, fighting air pollution, promoting vaccination and health education among the public are also major means of prevention and control of respiratory diseases," he said.
"China is a country most seriously affected by chronic respiratory diseases, and it should take even greater efforts to lead the prevention and control of the diseases," he said.