European COPD Coalition

Air pollution in Paris : Eiffel tower through a haze of pollution in ParisMembers of the European Parliament (MEPs) meeting in plenary session have approved on 23rd of November new EU-wide air pollution rules, after it was adopted in July in the EP committees. The updated National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive sets air pollution limits that are expected to halve the health impact of air pollution by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

According to environmental experts and associations, this is no sufficient: even after full implementation of the directive in 2030, around 250,000 Europeans are still likely to die prematurely because of air pollution every year.

(image credit: AFP)

This is due to:

  • The set targets are not ambitious enough
  • Member States agreed to provide themselves “get-out-of-jail” cards with “flexibilities” that will allow them in case of dry summer or cold winter not to respect the limits. They will also be able to escape responsibility in case emissions from one sector turn out to be greater than expected, as already happened with dieselgate (source: EEB).
  • No caps for methane. The European Parliament and Commission wanted to limit methane as it contributes to ground level ozone which is harmful to human health, the Member States opposed and obtained to exclude methane from this Directive.

It is important to note that in the case of NEC, the European Commission and Parliament demonstrated much higher ambitious and took a stronger stance on air quality than Member States, that succeeded in watering down the original proposals. They have delayed improved health conditions for EU citizens, allowing air pollution to remain too high to effectively decrease respiratory diseases.

We count on national authorities to go beyond the Directive targets and means of action to improve the lives of millions suffering from respiratory diseases and COPD in particular, and to prevent more cases of ill-health.

More information.

OECD_logo_new.svgThe 2016 edition of the yearly “Health at a Glance Europe 2016” report includes for the first time a long section on COPD.


(image/logo source: OECD)

The European COPD Coalition welcomes the initiative from the OECD and the European Commission to share greater information on chronic respiratory diseases in this year’s Health at a Glance, and in particular on COPD*, reporting on mortality, COPD in primary and secondary care, prevalence and incidence, as well as on the major risk factors and determinants of health, for respiratory diseases, including air quality**.

ECC applauds the recommendations made in this report on the role of primary care for COPD treatment and management, and in particular in consideration of avoidable hospital admissions (page 128).

We regret however, that the methodology to collect the data presented in this report (patients self-report their disease, via interviews and surveys), does not allow to reflect the reality of COPD, as the OECD figures do not correspond to that presented in the vast majority of national and pan-European studies – all reporting much higher prevalence, incidence and mortality than what this report mentions. It is also regrettable that this document omits to present COPD as an important co-morbidity, as it would explain the relatively modest mortality rate. We also note that the chapter on Physical Activity focuses only on the matter as a risk factor (lack of physical activity), and does not mention its role as a means to improve ill-health, in the case, for instance of COPD (page 106).

We commend  however the authors statement on the discrepancy between what they present and commonly accepted figures in relation to COPD, because of the methodology adopted: “Self-reported data on asthma and COPD may be subject to under-diagnosis and reporting errors. An under-estimation of the real prevalence may particularly occur for COPD as studies in many countries report higher COPD prevalence than those based on self-report.”(page 82). It is important to note that the methodology for the data collection for the Health at a Glance report is choice of  Member States.

*  Chapter 2: page 128, Strengthening primary care systems: Avoidable hospital admissions; page 60: Mortality from all causes; page 66: Mortality from respiratory diseases; Chapter 3, page 82: Health status, Asthma and COPD prevalence – for instance, but COPD is part of other chapters.

** Page 110, Chapter 4, Determinants of Health

More information.


Mise en page 1World COPD Day 2016, take care of your lungs

Research finds that as many as 66 million [1]  people in European region may be living with COPD – yet, very few people have ever heard of this disease.
COPD is a very serious chronic lung disease, the umbrella name for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is characterised by the production of a large amount of mucus (or phlegm), wheezing, fatigue and breathlessness. It is mainly caused by smoking, but being exposed to dust, fumes or poor air quality, and a rare form of gene deficiency may also be the reason for COPD.
It is more common than diabetes, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis, but very few people know about it
”, said Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of ECC, the European COPD Coalition. “With such a high number of people concerned, it is puzzling that COPD remains so invisible to the public at large, decision makers, and the general media” she added.

Koranyi instituteBudapest, 12-13 October 2016 – COPD is one the most common diseases in the world. According to WHO estimates, about 64 million people around the world live with COPD and by 2030 COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide.

By Zoltan Massay-Kosubek, Policy Co-ordinator for Healthy Trade and Trade Equity and Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of the European COPD Coalition. Photo: Koranyi Institute, Budapest. Photo credit: Koranyi Institute, Koranyi Bulletin.

A joint European COPD Coalition (ECC) – European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) delegation recently visited Hungary and met with representatives of the National Korányi Institute for Tuberculosis and Pulmonology, decision makers in the Ministry of Human Capacities responsible for health as well as Hungarian patient organisations to better understand the burden of COPD  in Hungary and the national political framework to tackle chronic diseases. National examples are key to address the Non-Communicable Disease epidemic, where urgent, coordinated action is needed at European level.

Air pollution LondonAir pollution has emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide. Those deaths cost the global economy about US$225 billion in lost labour income in 2013, a new study finds, pointing toward the economic burden of air pollution.

[photo: David Holt, FlickR]

The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the economic case for action, a joint study of the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), seeks to estimate the costs of premature deaths related to air pollution, to strengthen the case for action and facilitate decision making in the context of scarce resources. An estimated 5.5 million lives were lost in 2013 to diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution, causing human suffering and reducing economic development.