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Looking back at the FRESH AIR project – improving lung disease treatment in low and middle income countries

Getting the right prevention advice and treatment to people in different countries can be difficult, and one approach does not work in every setting. The aim of the FRESH AIR project was to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases in places with fewer resources.

The project was funded as a ‘Horizon 2020’ project by the European Commission, and ran from 2015 to 2018. It was led by Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, and involved 15 partners from countries around the globe.

The challenges

Across the world, deaths from chronic (long-term) lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are increasing. Some 4 in 5 asthma deaths and more than 4 in 5 COPD deaths occur in low-resource settings. This is likely to be because of lots of different factors, including smoking rates, poor air quality, lack of awareness and difficulty accessing treatment.

FRESH AIR activities

The FRESH AIR project based its activities in Vietnam, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan and Greece, and the work included:

  1. Improving understanding of lung disease risks
  2. Engaging communities
  3. Improving diagnosis and treatment of lung disease
  4. Improving lung health for children

In each of these areas, project partners ran studies and activities. Some examples include:  producing information for parents of children with asthma, art and patient stories that were used to increase awareness and engagement in the community, campaigns that raised awareness of the harms of tobacco and biomass (a type of cooking fuel) smoke, and training for healthcare professionals in diagnosing lung conditions.

New knowledge

Throughout the project, researchers uncovered new information about how to help people with lung disease in different settings. For example, they found that asthma is often missed by doctors in places where lung infections are common. They also found that the effect on long-term lung disease is difficult to understand, because people might not take time off work but they might be less productive.  

FRESH AIR offers…

Now that the project has been completed, FRESH AIR data can offer evidence to help communities and organisations argue for changes to protect people’s lungs. This includes medical data and evidence about how easy and costly different activities and processes are to run in different communities.

Find out more on the FRESH AIR website.