THE objective of the annual recognition of World Lung Day, celebrated on September 25, is to promote lung health and empower lung health advocacy and action.
Lung health is an essential aspect of overall health because the lung is responsible for removing carbon dioxide and providing oxygen to the rest of the body through the blood. Without the smooth exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body, an individual's lifespan can be prematurely shortened. Lung health is affected by risk factors such as air quality, exercise, vaccination and exposure to tobacco smoke.
The theme for the 2022 recognition of World Lung Day — Lung Health for All — was inspired by the inequities in lung health which was highlighted throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic. As at September 10, 2022, Jamaica recorded 150,752 COVID-19 positive cases and 3,284 deaths due to COVID-19. The country currently has an active population wide vaccination regime and screening for COVID-19 can be done island wide at numerous government and private facilities.
As a World Lung Day partner, the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control is participating in the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign along with the European Lung Foundation (ELF), the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS). The information below outlines the ways you too can keep your lungs healthy.
The best way to protect your lung health is to quit smoking or maintain a smoke-free lifestyle. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking is also a risk factor for other respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma as well diseases of other organs and systems, including heart disease, reproductive disorders, intestinal illnesses and oral diseases. Fifteen per cent of Jamaicans currently smoke while 11 per cent of all non-communicable diseases in Jamaica are attributable to smoking. Smoking affects both smokers and non-smokers as over seven million people worldwide die annually due to direct tobacco use while approximately 1.2 million die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Breathe clean air
Air quality plays an important role on lung health. Everyone breathes the same air, therefore air quality affects everyone. According to the European Lung Foundation, air quality in many countries fall below the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended safe levels and not enough is being done to prioritise clean air. Poor air quality is caused by sources such as emissions from commercial and industrial operations, aerosols, emissions from vehicles, smoking, and natural disasters such as wildfires. Some ways in which you can breathe clean air are to maximise the use of natural ventilation at home, school or work and to quit smoking or ask others not to smoke around you.
Take the active option
Regular physical activity helps improve lung health. Exercise is beneficial for healthy people and equally for those suffering from lung disease. Regular physical activity increases muscle strength and overall functioning of the organs. Exercise can also improve your mood and general feeling of wellness. It is important to tailor your exercise routine to suit your level of fitness and engage in pre and post exercise stretches to get the best results for your lung health.
Vaccination gives you and others around you, protection from diseases. Vaccines are normally specific to the disease they are intended to protect against and will vary based on the mode of delivery and number of doses required to be considered fully immunised. Some lung conditions which can be prevented by vaccination are pneumonia, influenza, and whooping cough. Vaccines can also reduce the risk and severity of the COVID-19 disease which affects the respiratory system. Jamaica currently has vaccination programmes which protect against lung conditions such as COVID-19, influenza and tuberculosis.
The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control encourages Jamaicans to prioritise lung health by breathing clean air, vaccinating against lung diseases, engaging in regular physical activity and most importantly — leading a smoke-free life.