Chronic respiratory diseases in developing countries: the burden and strategies for prevention and management

01 Jan 2001
Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Disease management
  • Diagnosis
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Aït-Khaled N, Enarson D, Bousquet J


In developing countries, chronic respiratory diseases represent a challenge to public health because of their frequency, severity, projected trends, and economic impact. Health care planners, for example, are faced with a dramatic increase in tobacco use and must establish priorities for the allocation of limited resources. Nevertheless, smoking prevention and standardized management programmes for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should be implemented in developing countries whenever possible. International measures will be required to reverse tobacco smoking trends, and international agencies could define essential drugs and equipment and encourage the use of generic drugs, particularly for corticosteroids inhaled at high dosages. For such programmes to be effective, producers of high-quality generics will need to be identified, and the medications added to national lists of essential drugs and included in procurement procedures. Other recommendations for alleviating the burden of chronic respiratory diseases in developing countries are: adapting guidelines to local contexts and ensuring their distribution; upgrading equipment at district level; purchasing high-quality drugs at low prices; routine training and supervision of health services personnel; and regular monitoring of performance. Social mobilization by professional societies, nongovernmental organizations, and the mass media will also increase government commitment to tobacco control and standardized case management.