J. Randall Curtis, M.D., M.P.H.
President of ATS
This month marks the start of the "Year of the Lung." The "Year of the Lung" initiative is being spearheaded by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), which includes the ATS, as well as six key partners: the American College of Chest Physicians, the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, the Asociación Latinoamericana de Tórax, the European Respiratory Society, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and the Pan-African Thoracic Society. Together, we are reaching out to all organizations and individuals interested in lung health to promote the "Year of the Lung."
Why do we need a "Year of the Lung"?
Lung diseases are a common cause of morbidity and mortality in all populations and all age groups worldwide. Globally, lung disease accounts for 19 percent of all deaths and 15 percent of disability-adjusted life years. Although lung diseases have always been an important cause of morbidity and mortality, their incidence, prevalence and importance have steadily been increasing over the last decade. This increase is presumably due to the rapid increase of key risk factors including urbanization and industrialization, tobacco use, air pollution and the HIV epidemic. Despite the pervasiveness and significance of these problems, public awareness of lung diseases-and, therefore, the political will to address the problems of lung health-remain remarkably limited.
As a major international and interdisciplinary professional scientific society focusing on lung disease, critical illness and sleep disorders, the ATS firmly believes that raising awareness about lung health, as well as critical illness and sleep disorders, is an essential step for achieving its mission. This mission includes providing an international forum for scientists, clinicians, health policy experts, patients and other partners with the expertise necessary to minimize the burden of respiratory disease, critical illness and sleep disorders through prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Raising awareness through the "Year of the Lung" will help us achieve this mission by increasing attention and the resources allocated to preventing and treating lung disease and maximizing lung health.
What are the goals of the "Year of the Lung"?
The long-term goals of the "Year of the Lung" campaign are to raise awareness about lung health and lung disease among the public, initiate action in communities worldwide and advocate for resources to advance lung health and fight lung disease, including support for research and research training programs, clinical and clinical training programs and public health programs worldwide.
The ATS is planning a variety of initiatives over the coming year to further the goals of the "Year of the Lung." These activities will include specific programming at our International Conference in New Orleans, May 14 to 19, 2010, that focuses on global lung health. Many ATS members are involved in writing chapters for a book on respiratory diseases that will be published by the ATS and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The book will be used to raise awareness among opinion leaders and to support calls for increased funding for research, clinical care and public health.
We are working closely to develop activities and programs with the ATS Public Advisory Roundtable (ATS PAR), which serves as a bridge between the Society and patient organizations. The "Year of the Lung" will also enhance our ability to implement programs to prevent and treat TB, achieve clean air, understand and reverse the health effects of climate change, and focus on preventing and treating other lung disease, critical illness and sleep disorders. We also will be working with the ATS chapters-our state-based organizations-to develop local awareness and advocacy programs.
How will we know if the "Year of the Lung" is working?
It is important for us to plan an evaluation that can assess whether we have made a difference. The initial evaluation of the "Year of the Lung" will assess such measures as the number of Web site hits, the number and reach of news stories and the number of partnering organizations and countries participating in the "Year of the Lung" activities. As time goes on, we will build on this evaluation plan to include programs initiated, legislation enacted and people reached by these interventions.
How can you help?
For the "Year of the Lung" to be successful, individual ATS members must promote activities at the local level such as leading school-based education programs, hosting informational events and working with ATS on Society-based programs. You can find out more about the "Year of the Lung" campaign on the ATS Web site at www.thoracic.org. Resources for developing local activities are available at www.yearofthelung.org. If you are interested in participating, please contact either Jo Rae Wright, Ph.D. (email@example.com) or Dean Schraufnagel, M.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org), who are co-chairing the ATS's activities. I also welcome your ideas for making the most of this important opportunity.
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