Norbert Berend, Research Director of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research has been elected President of FIRS (Forum of International Respiratory Societies) for 2011.
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) was established in 2002, with members coming from six international societies Asociacion Latinoamericana del Thorax (ALAT), the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), the American Thoracic Society (ATS), the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), the European Respiratory Society (ERS), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), and the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS). The forum aims to promote advocacy in matters of global respiratory health and the identification of new areas for global initiatives.
A few years ago, FIRS acknowledged that lung health has been neglected in public discourse and on the political agenda, despite the fact that millions of people suffer and die from respiratory diseases. In order to reverse this unacceptable situation and increase the awareness of lung health issues, the FIRS declared 2010 the Year of the Lung.
Norbert Berend will be in the forefront of leading this campaign saying that “More than 10 million people die of lung disease every year, representing 7% of all deaths worldwide. Particularly relevant to Australia is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a deadly, chronic disease affecting approximately 2.1 million Australians. It’s also the third most burdensome disease in Australians and the fourth most common cause of death”.
He went on to say that “It’s so important we raise the profile of lung health especially as we continue to see the devastating effects of COPD and its increase not only here but around the world”.
The objectives of this campaign are to: promote global advocacy on lung health and diseases, act to prevent lung diseases and diagnose these illnesses early in their course, increase the funding for research on the respiratory system, and promote legislation in favour of clean air and a tobacco-free environment.
The goal of FIRS in 2011 will be to compile a global overview of respiratory disease and its impact, linked to a roadmap of actions to improve global lung health over the next decade.