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Help Africa breathe – Siza iAfrika iphefumule

Lung and respiratory disease in children and adult is a major cause of death, disability and morbidity in Africa. The most common illnesses are:
• Infections like pneumonia and TB)
• NCDs like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). TB remains the #1 killer disease in South Africa.

Why Durban?
Two professional groups, that focus on these illnesses, held a joint congress in Durban during April: PATS (Pan African Thoracic Society) and South African Thoracic Society. So, this was the perfect opportunity to discuss the challenges and to improve collaboration for lung health in Africa by strengthening initiatives to improve care, build capacity with research, training and advocacy.

IMPALA research programme for African lung health.
After the congress, 14 partners from 11 African countries continued with a series of education and advocacy events for the IMPALA programme (International Multidisciplinary Programme to Address Lung Health and TB in Africa). This 4-year research collaboration is funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research which established an Africa-focused Global Health Research Unit on Lung Health and TB the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). It will generate scientific knowledge and implementable solutions for these high burdens, under-funded and under-researched health problems.

Spirometry training in Durban
PATS promotes training to strengthen respiratory health across Africa. So, the Durban event was the perfect time to launch its PATS / IMPALA international standard foundational spirometry training programme. It is available for Africans working in any setting. In 2017 the first courses were piloted in Uganda and Ethiopia.

The training programme lasts at least 2 months with 3 parts:
• Online self-study, the training materials are available for free online here
• Training workshop 3 days of face-to-face training
• Completion of a portfolio of evidence workbook.


Contact patsspirometry@gmail.com for training enquiries.

313 Durban people screened for lung health
Alongside the IMPALA meeting, Health Lungs for Life seven-day-long free respiratory screening events were in and around of Durban. Free spirometry testing was provided to 313 people. The data was added to the Paediatric and Adult Spirometry Study which collects lung function information for healthy South Africans for much needed local reference values. These events were funded and supported by the PATS Spirometry program.

Spirometry equipment donates
10 IMPALA partners from Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda were presented with ERS / ELF donated spirometry equipment to take back with them for use in their research clinics. Lindsay Zurba, of Spirometry Training Services Africa, said, “This equipment is essential to diagnose asthma, COPD and other conditions that affect breathing. The loaning of this equipment by PATS and LSTM to these in-country partners will have a hugely positive impact on the research and the treatment received by those that visit their clinics.”

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