The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the only way to cope with today’s global disease burden is through better access to, and application of, the principles and approaches of primary healthcare.

This chapter summarises the potential positive impact of primary care practitioners on the burden of respiratory disease in Europe, and describes how they could improve access to care and health outcomes. In particular, we should support the calls of the WHO and the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance to take action now to combat chronic lung disease. Primary care needs to be made stronger, with less variation of investment between countries and faster progress towards the goals of the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA62) resolution.

In a survey of nine countries, the WHO Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) found that, over a 5-year period, the proportion of patients with respiratory symptoms consulting primary care providers for any  reason ranged from 8.4–37%. This reflects the high prevalence and variation of respiratory disease, underlines the need for primary care to be equipped to deal with it, and highlights the fact that some primary care services have the potential to do even more, given the right support.

See the entire Primary care practitioners Chapter