European Lung Foundation Rare Disease Day 2016

01 Mar European Lung Foundation Rare Disease Day 2016

Message from Dan Smyth, Chair of the European Lung Foundation:

Today is Rare Disease Day, a day where people with rare conditions have the opportunity to come together and raise awareness, with the hope that it will help improve diagnosis and care for these conditions, which affect less than 1 in 2,000 people. We are currently working on a number of projects that focus on supporting people with rare lung conditions – you can read about these below.

During the last few weeks, several new studies have been released regarding the damage that breathing in polluted air can do to our lung health. I appeared on the BBC World Service to discuss one paper, published in the European Respiratory Journal, which found a link between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and the risk of a child later developing asthma.

Senior experts from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) were involved in another report, published in the UK by the Royal College of Physicians, which linked air pollution to 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK.

Such studies highlight the worrying effects of air pollution, and reinforce the need for us to intensify our efforts to tackle the problem. Next month we are hosting workshops with ERS on air pollution and exposure to lung health hazards in the workplace, and will keep you posted on the outcomes. Remember, you can also join the Healthy Lungs for Life Facebook group to stay updated on our work in this area.

Finally, I would like to remind you that it is not too late to organise your own Healthy Lungs for Life event this year, using the ‘take the active option’ theme. With the Rio Summer Olympics coming up, it is the perfect opportunity to find some inspiration. The campaign website has a range of materials​ to support your activities, so do have a look.

Earlier in the month I met with the Irish Lung Health Alliance to discuss their plans for Healthy Lungs for Life events in the next year, and am looking forward to working together to spread the messages of the campaign across Ireland. I will keep you posted on these activities in the coming months, and hope to hear about your plans.