Advancing towards a common goal

OCTOBER 2015: PROFESSOR JØRGEN VESTBO

27 June, 2016

I am privileged to be the first writer of this new Respiratory Worldwide Column. In creating this new central space online, we aim to give respiratory leaders from across the globe a new platform to communicate with you. As a reader, you can learn more from key opinion leaders across the globe as they share their thoughts, insights and the latest news from their country or region.

I have just begun my first term as ERS President after a successful ERS Congress in Amsterdam so this seems a fitting time to reflect on the recent 25th ERS International Congress and look to the year ahead.

The Congress in Amsterdam was another huge success. We had over 23,000 delegates on site making it by far our biggest Congress ever. It was great to bring together so many respiratory professionals. We really believe that by meeting face-to-face in this way we can really extend knowledge in the field, build on our networks and make huge strides towards our goal of improving respiratory health in Europe.

I would also invite you all to consider how we can take this knowledge further. It is imperative that we all work towards our common goal of alleviating suffering from respiratory disease and I believe that advocacy within our communities is a crucial step towards raising the profile of lung health.

In addition to advocating within the respiratory arena, our actions can also span disease areas. Respiratory diseases are just one of the four main types of non-communicable diseases along with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. NCDs account for 63% of all deaths and many occur simultaneously. Non-communicable diseases must be tackled as one burden and I am committed to working with our colleagues at the World Health Organization in Europe to join forces with our colleagues in these disease areas to tackle the challenges ahead of us. I have also just been to WHO Geneva with our colleagues from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and it was encouraging to experience the real interest in chronic respiratory diseases within WHO.

The growth in the ERS International Congress is also mirrored in the growth in our membership body. Since January 2015, we have been forging partnerships with national and regional societies across the globe to increase access to our resources and events. National and regional respiratory societies can offer all their members full ERS membership as part of their own membership package. I am proud to see the growth in this worldwide respiratory network and firmly believe that in order to achieve our common goals of reducing the burden of lung disease, we must continue to share knowledge and work together.

Over the next year, I will continue to oversee the 5-year strategy implemented by ERS in 2013. This includes a number of key areas of expansion, which we will continue to work on as well as offering international membership agreements with more societies across the world.

It is an honour for me to be working within such a thriving network of respiratory professionals and I look forward to seeing the positive outcomes that this collaboration can bring.