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World COPD Day 2017 “Faces of COPD” – 20 November

To mark World COPD Day, ECC is helping putting faces to the disease, to show it affects a high number of people around us, with a disease that remains “invisible” to the outside world. Despite being a severe respiratory disease that affects up to 10% of the European adult population and is estimated to be the 3rd leading cause of death by 2030 according to the World Health Organisation, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease remains largely unknown, highly underestimated and therefore under-diagnosed and under-treated, while almost fully preventable.

Worldwide, 64 million people suffer from COPD, and every hour, 250 people die because of COPD every year; among them, 300 000 are Europeans. That is the equivalent of 3 Fukushima per year.

For policy makers to understand the necessity to act, we wish to make COPD more visible and “real” with sharing portraits of people living with the disease, or working on the subject – healthcare professionals as well as informal carers.

We call on the EU political leaders to

  • Protect their citizens and prevent the outbreak of the disease by further restricting access to tobacco, the number one risk factor of COPD as well as implementing strong policies on air quality,
  • Support and promote further research on the disease, and not only clinical research, but also on the social and environmental factors, or the underlying causes of COPD, see our video for more information
  • Mainstream COPD in chronic diseases related European strategies,
  • Sustain national plans or programmes on COPD.

World COPD Day 2016 “breathe in the knowledge” – 16 November

Take care of your lungs, be aware of COPD.

On the occasion of World COPD Day 2016, ECC is supporting efforts to raise awareness about COPD at the European level with:

  • highlighting the importance of COPD via visuals sent to MEPs, key decision makers in the European Commission and EU Member States Health Attachés; the visuals provide striking numbers, and focus on the fact that the disease remains rather invisible to all, and hence, do get much attention
  • a Twitter and Facebook campaign over one week with the same messages and visuals, to target a larger group of people
  • an article “10 things to know about COPD” in the Brussels Airlines in-flight magazine
  • the participation to an European Parliament event on air quality and housing – where the impact of poor air quality on people living with COPD will be highlighted (16 November)
  • the support of the Written Declaration promoted by EFA on Chronic Respiratory Diseases

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WCD2016 Logos (rev)

World COPD Day 2015 – raising awareness and advocating for further actions to prevent and treat the disease, with all concerned parties: patients, healthcare professionals, informal carers, life science representatives, and politicians/decision makers.

Every year, ECC marks World COPD Day (WCD), in Brussels, to reach EU decision makers and deliver information, in order for them to fully understand the scope and burden of the disease and take action.

ECC develops new material and messages for each WCD and usually offers free spirometry testing in one of the EU institutions buildings. We share findings, recommendations, and our requests on social media as well.

European Commission staff gets breathing test to mark WCD 2015

IMG_3641Today, 18 November 2015, the European COPD Coalition (ECC) organised free lung testing (spirometry) in the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. More than 250 civil servants’ breathing capacity were assessed and information shared about COPD. The aim of the event was to raise awareness on the condition with the staff working for top EU decision makers, so that they could understand the importance of the disease and invite, with ECC their employers to take action.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is a long-term lung and airways disease that is not curable. It affects up to 10% of the European adult population – and yet very few people know about it.

COPD causes wheezing, shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest tightness, and other symptoms. It makes breathing very difficult. And you cannot breathe, nothing else matters. It is the 5th cause of death and will be the 3rd at global level by 2030 according to WHO, if we don’t take appropriate action to stop it. COPD is the 3rd chronic disease, after cardiovascular diseases, cancer and before diabetes, in terms of prevalence, incidence and mortality. Every year, 200,000 people die of COPD in the EU.

ECC listed in its Call to Action 22 measures that should be adopted at European and Member State level to address the disease – Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of ECC said: “these are concrete, pragmatic measures that should be implemented to drastically slow the progression of the disease and better prevent it. We believe that EU politicians have a key role to play and budgets to adopt to help stop the development of a disease that is almost fully preventable. We hope that EC staff will relay this message internally.

Commissioner for health, Vytenis Andriukaitis showed his support to the initiative by taking the test himself [see picture], he underlined that earlier diagnosis is essential for a better management of the disease and highlighted that prevention, including of lung diseases, is one of his main priorities.

The feedback from people who took the test was very positive, with many of them asking for the event to be repeated every year. Others, consulted our quit smoking specialist for advice and direction, with some indicating clear signs of COPD.

If you want to get your lung tested and/or are worried that you may be suffering from COPD, please ask your doctor.

For more information:

–  World Health Organisation (WHO):
– European Respiratory Society (ERS):
– the British Lung Foundation (BLF):

WCD 2014: Why a disease that affects one in ten adults in Europe is still neglected?

November 20th, 2014 | Posted by European COPD Coalition in Uncategorized | Edit

Photo Catherine StihlerChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)  affects up to 10% of European adults and is the fourth cause of death worldwide, and is expected to be in third place by 2030 (1). As yet, few EU leaders or policy-makers are aware of this fact. Until this changes, little political action will be given to tackle one of the most acute public health issues in Europe.

“As a first step to effectively address this public health threat, we should get much better at raising awareness of this condition. The Scottish Parliament’s motion on World COPD Day is an excellent example of how to make this happen,” argued Catherine Stihler MEP (S&D, UK – pictured here, at the European Parliament) on the occasion of World COPD Day. (2)

COPD is not curable and treatments only affect symptoms. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and given how widespread COPD is, it is unacceptable that this condition has not received more attention in terms of prevention, better care, treatment, research and training of healthcare professionals (3).

“In serious and terminal cases, COPD patients require the use of oxygen tanks to breathe, a situation similar to people suffering from several forms and degrees of disability across Europe. This puts a drain both on family incomes and countries’ productivity and that is why more should be done not only at the European level but also at national levels like in Hungary where access to tobacco products has recently been successfully curbed”argued MEP Ádám Kósa (EPP, HU).

“COPD does not only affect the lives of millions in Europe, it also poses a vast burden to society and Europe’s fragile economies, as COPD accounts for 10.3 billion Euros in healthcare spending a year in Europe (4),” said Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of the European COPD Coalition. “The cumulative cost of COPD in in the EU is €48.4 billion per year,” added Ms. Hartmann (2).

To raise awareness, ECC distributed information leaflets at the European Parliament and the European Commission on Wednesday 19th November 2014.

“COPD is largely preventable and with further research, could be much better treated and managed. It is time that EU decision-makers act on it, and follow our recommendations, implement the ECC Call to Action” (3) concluded Ms. Hartmann.


1. See the European Respiratory Society (ERS) White book and the World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet.

2. S4M-11429 Rhoda Grant: World COPD Day; World COPD Day is a global initiative led by GOLD, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

3. See ECC’s Call to Action to seek political impetus to put in place the right framework addressing all aspects of COPD

4. The total COPD related expenses for outpatient care (= not in hospital) in the EU is approximately € 4,7 billion per year. Inpatient care (=in hospital) generates costs of €2,9 billion followed by expenses in pharmaceutical of 2,7 billion per year. COPD, Key Facts


28 November 2013

Lessons to address the poor state of COPD care in Europe and research in Horizon 2020

Lt, ECC and EFA bannerTo mark World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day 2013, the European COPD Coalition and the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) (1) organised an event (2) under the auspices of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

The conference entitled “What role for diseases and patients in shaping Horizon 2020? A COPD case study of patient involvement” discussed the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – Horizon 2020, and standards of care for COPD, with a patient’s perspective.

COPD (3) was taken as a case study, since this chronic lung disease is marked by increasing prevalence among the European population and is one of the leading causes of premature deaths worldwide and yet, awareness of the COPD is largely insufficient.

The degree in which Horizon 2020 – the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union: an EU initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness- is fit to accommodate disease specific research featured high during the debate. “Given the prevalence and societal and economic burden of COPD, there should absolutely be some kind of ring-fencing of funds for specific diseases such as this that has been underfunded to date. In such areas, researches would otherwise find it hard to compete with larger, more established research fields. Additionally, prevention and patient priorities have been neglected for far too long and should be moved up dramatically in the agenda,” said Mike Galsworthy, from the University College London’s Department of Applied Health Research.

 “The clock is ticking when it comes to tackle the acute deficiencies in the way that COPD is treated across Europe. Patients themselves should be given a larger role in shaping research, for instance, in prompting actions – i.e. to be better integrated in EU projects – so that policy-makers and healthcare professionals do not trip over the same stone again when delivering care to patients,” pointed out Isabel Saraiva, COPD patient from the Portuguese Association of people with COPD and other Chronic Respiratory Diseases (RESPIRA).

EFA’s report ‘Minimum Standards of Care for COPD Patients in Europe’ (4) was launched during the conference. “As the EFA’s paper highlights, people suffering of COPD and patients of respiratory diseases in Europe have been enduring for decades large disparities in the standards of care received. To overcome these inequalities, patient-driven standards on prevention, diagnosis, care and rehabilitation have to be better measured. There is an urgent need to use this data to drive and improve patients outcomes,“ stated Rupert Jones, General Practitioner for the International Primary Care Respiratory Group.

Over the course of the event, EFA’s booklet ‘Enabling Air Travel with Oxygen in Europe’ (5) was presented as a case study for ongoing discrimination against patients with chronic respiratory diseases.

Conference report


  • Notes 

(1) The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is a non-profit network of allergy, asthma and COPD patients organisations, representing 35 national associations in 22 countries and over 400,000 patients. EFA is dedicated to making Europe a place where people with allergies, asthma and COPD have the right to best quality of care and safe environment, live uncompromised lives and are actively involved in all decisions influencing their health.

(2) This event displayed a wide range of speakers, like Members of European Parliament, researchers, health care specialists, COPD patients. It also included a lung testing (spirometry) for free at the venue.

(3) Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the only major chronic disease whose incidence is on the increase and is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030 (exceeded only by heart diseases and stroke).

You can learn more about the incidence of COPD here.

(4) Minimum Standards of Care for COPD Patients in Europe

(5) Enabling Air Travel with Oxygen in Europe

14 November 2012

 World COPD Day’s general theme is “it’s not too late”.

Yes, it is still time to pay a visit to your doctor to speak about this chronic cough you have had for a while and to ask your healthcare professional for a spirometry test, a simple way to measure you breathing capacity.

No further time to waste on your decision to quit smoking; get help and support by phoning your national (free) help line. You should also maintain a good level of physical activity and make sure you have healthy meals.

There is still time to get treated to alleviate your symptoms and keep you out of hospital.

ECC is saying to EU politicians today that it is not too late to take political actions and support their constituents who have COPD or who are likely to have it. And we are telling them in the newspaper they read the most, the European Voice, with the visual in this article.

If you want to join us and support the fight against COPD, please contact us.

16 November 2011.

ECC  marked the day with an awareness raising visual campaign, targetted at EU decision makers based in Brussels. It consisted of 4 x 4 posters positioned at the main entrances/exits of the metro station Schuman, which serves the headquarters of the European Commission and of the Council, and of train station Luxembourg, which serves the European Parliament. The aim was to draw readers attention using humour and a candid question “COPD is….?”. An additional poster was located at the Maelbeek metro station. The posters were in the metro for a period of two weeks.

COPD is a  rather unknown disease and those most at risk often have never heard of it. ECC wishes that as many people as possible know about the disease, its impact on patients and their carers’ lives and the economic burden of the disease – so that redressing actions are adopted and put in place.

We call on the EU legislators to put COPD on the radar and make COPD a political priority. The EU must adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach to address COPD and its related issues, t in order to improve the quality of life of patients, decrease the social and economic burden of the disease and stop the COPD epidemic. ECC sent the following postion statement to all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and key European Commission decision makers on the occasion of World COPD Day.

Pictures taken in the metro are available here.

Position Statement ECC 10Nov11

World COPD Day is an annual awareness-raising event organized and sponsored by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). For more information please visit GOLD’s website. Participate to the national or local activities that are taking place in your country – you will find under the  GOLD, the Global Initiative for COPD website a list of events per country.