Lung health is fundamental for a healthier, stronger and more resilient society in Europe. However, respiratory disease, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), remains Europe’s Achilles heel - a significant burden to patients, healthcare systems and to society. The European Lung Health Group (ELHG) is calling on EU policymakers to address lung health in an all-round, multidisciplinary approach in a new publication – “#KeepBreathing: A vision for EU action on lung health 2024-2029”.

Our breath, and our lungs, are fundamental to a functioning human body and life. In fact, our lungs work hard to keep us alive, breathing 12 to 15 times a minute, translating to 22,000 breaths a day and more than 6 million breaths a year. But for some of us, breathing is more challenging than we can imagine - 87 million lives in the EU are impacted by lung disease. This is why the patients and doctors organisations of the ELHG are asking to prioritise action on lung health across the EU: our policy is to #KeepBreathing.

Breathing new life into EU lung health policy

The total societal cost of poor lung health in Europe is 611 billion EUR. Action for healthy lungs is crucial in improving the overall well-being of the population in the EU. Around 1 in 8 deaths in the EU was due to a respiratory disease. Improving lung health is one of the most effective ways of alleviating the strain on EU health systems, improving quality of life, and stimulating the EU economy. Improving lung health is one of the most effective ways of alleviating the strain on EU health systems, improving quality of life, and stimulating the EU economy.

Diseases of the lung and the respiratory system can be highly debilitating, affecting life as a whole and leading to co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease and obesity.Having healthy lungs means we can breathe, work, and play and finally - be better prepared for future health crises.

Better lung health and addressing the challenges of tomorrow

European Lung Health Group (ELHG) launches an EU action on lung health in a new publication: “#KeepBreathing: A vision for EU action on lung health 2024-2029” in the framework of the #KeepBreathing campaign.

The document lays out immediate actions to improve EU policy on lung health across three areas:

  • On prevention, it is a pressing public health need that the EU and Member States improve air quality indoors and outdoors, commit to eradicating smoking and increase early screening rates, vaccinations and lung health checks.  
  • On care, patients and healthcare professionals call for initiatives and resources to ensure early and accurate diagnosis to enable better respiratory treatment to save lives, as well as better follow-up multidisciplinary care to improve quality of life.   
  • On research, there is an imperative to match the burden of lung disease with the investment it receives, moving towards well-funded, patient-centric research to enhance today’s levels of prevention and care and to discover the cures of tomorrow. 

All-round approach on lung health – calling on EU policymakers to act now

Tackling respiratory diseases, and therefore addressing lung health, relies on early diagnosis, timely intervention, and ensuring access to the right treatments. It requires a multidisciplinary approach to lung health that focuses not only on symptom management but holistic care, including strong emphasis on preventative measures such as health literacy, strengthening overall, lifelong health to prevent infection and promoting research in the most pressing challenges.

ELHG calls on the European Commission to step up its action on lung health by adopting a holistic approach – working across DGs – and by increasing its ambition through more investment, research and action.

The members of the ELHG stand ready to work with the European Commission, all EU institutions and agencies, as well as the Member States, to improve lung health for a healthier, stronger and more resilient society in Europe.

We say the time is now for a lung health policy that helps Europe to #KeepBreathing.

Read the new publication here

About the European Lung Health Group and the #KeepBreathing campaign

The ELHG is a partnership of nine European patient associations and healthcare professionals. Lung health groups are joining forces to raise awareness about lung health, highlighting the importance of lungs in a #KeepBreathing campaign.The ELHG advocates across three key policy areas: prevention, care, and research. Addressing them will devise coherent EU policies to ensure Europeans can #KeepBreathing, improving millions of lives, better preparing Europe for future health crises, and lessening the strain on the healthcare system.

The European Lung Health Group (ELHG) thanks EFA’s sustainable funding partners for their unrestricted educational grants which have helped the association in coordinating the work towards BREATHE Vision for 2030 and its activities: Astra Zeneca, Chiesi, and Roche. More information here.