Strategies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COPD in low- and middle- income countries: the importance of primary care.

12 Oct 2021


Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) bear a high proportion of the global morbidity and mortality caused by COPD. Increased exposure to risk factors throughout life (e.g. malnutrition, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and smoking) is associated with higher COPD prevalence in LMICs and the lack of treatment availability increases avoidable harm.


This review covers the epidemiology and burden of COPD in LMICs, and challenges and recommendations related to health-care systems, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Main challenges are related to under-resourced health-care systems (such as limited availability of spirometry, rehabilitation, and medicines). Lack of policy and practical local guidelines on COPD diagnosis and management further contribute to the low diagnostic and treatment rates. In the absence of, or limited number of respiratory specialists, primary care practitioners (general practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, and community health workers) play an even more pivotal role in COPD management in LMICs.


Raising awareness on COPD, educating health-care workers, patients, and communities on cost-effective preventive measures as well as improving availability, affordability and proper use of diagnostic and pharmacological and non-pharmacologic treatment in primary care are the key interventions needed to improve COPD prevention, diagnosis, and care in LMICs.


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Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Rossaki FM, Hurst JR, van Gemert F, Kirenga BJ, Williams S, Khoo EM, Tsiligianni I, Tabyshova A, van Boven JF