Respiratory Illness & Disease Worldwide

The Impact of Respiratory Illness in Poor Countries

Acute lower respiratory infections cause the greatest burden of disease worldwide. Children under five years of age in particular are at risk; some two million children die of lower respiratory infections every year.

To learn more, read “Childhood Pneumonia –Progress and Challenges” and “Lung Infection–A Public Health Priority.”

Pulmonary Disease and the Global Tobacco Epidemic

Tobacco smoking and biomass fuel smoke are the main contributors to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a life-threatening condition that blocks air flow and interferes with normal breathing. COPD kills nearly three million people a year in poor countries, and the burden of disease is likely to increase in the years to come.

Tobacco smoking is also a major risk factor for lung cancer and is anticipated to kill over 130 million people in poor countries between 2005 and 2030.

For more information, read the WHO Special Report on the global tobacco epidemic.