12th GARD General Meeting – International conference discusses chronic lung diseases in Helsinki

More than 100 scientists and opinion leaders from over 30 countries will meet in Helsinki at the 12th General Meeting of the Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Disease (GARD/WHO) on 30 August – 1 September, 2018. The Global Asthma Report 2018 will be launched at the beginning of the meeting and the main results of the global situation of asthma presented. The meeting will be opened by the Minister of Social Affairs and Health HE Pirkko Mattila.

The three-day meeting will address global warming, changes in biodiversity and environment, and their role as factors predisposing to CRDs such as allergy and asthma. Finland’s achievements in reducing smoking and promoting lung health will also be discussed.

The results of the Global Asthma Report 2018 reveal that more than 300 million people suffer from asthma.  In Finland every 10th man and every 7th woman have previously been diagnosed with asthma and 250 000 people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This serious global public health problem can be addressed with improved prevention and management strategies and secured access to essential medicines in all countries.

Allergies and many chronic diseases are increasing in urbanizing societies.  Unstable immune system and mild inflammation are often indicative of these conditions and they seem to be linked with the changes in human microbiota. Contact to natural environment, the ”Natural Step” means paying more attention to lifestyles and environment.

“Experiences from Finland show, that it is possible to reduce the burden of CRDs by implementing well-coordinated national programmes involving all stakeholders at all levels of the health care system”, says Marina Erhola, Deputy Director General at THL.

The GARD meeting will address strategies to support low and middle income countries in their fight against CRDs. Finland has implemented successful international programmes against CRDs at the primary health care level in Central Asia. This knowhow could support the goals of GARD.

The meeting is organized by FILHA (Finnish Lung Health Association) and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in close cooperation with GARD and the WHO.

Global Asthma Report 2018 

The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) 

Luontoaskel tarttumattomien tulehdustautien torjumiseksi (in Finnish)
Duodecim 2017;133(1):19-26

Terveys, toimintakyky ja hyvinvointi Suomessa: FinTerveys 2017 (in Finnish)
(figures concerning Finland’s CRDs and allergies, chapter 9.5).


GARD Program (pdf)

Further information

Tuula Vasankari
Secretary General
+358 50 545 0589 

Pekka Jousilahti
Research Professor
Tel: +358 40 512 4353

Arvid Nyberg   
Tel: +358 50 331 8444 

Guy Marks (Global Asthma Report)
Steering Group, Global Asthma Network
University of New South Wales
Tel.: +61 2 8738 3844