This chapter began by stressing that the size and the toll of the epidemic caused by respiratory disease are still overlooked and that there is a general lack of understanding among patients and the general public, which is mirrored at the political level.
Disease surveillance has been recognised as a key priority by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which has developed a strategy for infectious disease surveillance in Europe, to direct the long-term development of the European surveillance system. The ECDC states that the overall goal of the strategy is ‘to contribute to reducing the incidence and prevalence of communicable diseases in Europe by providing relevant public health data, information and reports to decision-makers, professionals and health care workers in an effort to promote actions that will result in the timely prevention and control of communicable diseases in Europe. High validity and good comparability of communicable disease data from the Member States are imperative to reach this goal.’
Accurate information upon which to base improvements for prevention and care, as well as to monitor progress on political commitments, is essential in order to estimate the magnitude of specific problems, determine the distribution of illness, portray the natural history of a disease, generate hypotheses, stimulate research, evaluate control measures, monitor changes and facilitate planning. A read through this and earlier chapters confirms a critical lack of national capacity to collect, interpret and use comparable data accurately and transparently across different sectors and between countries. Since formulation of optimal policy demands accurate and up-to-date information, it is of paramount importance that all European governments improve and standardise surveillance and data collection relating to respiratory diseases as a top priority and a matter of urgency.
We hope that European governments will implement all the policy interventions recommended in this and the preceding chapters, including the provision of adequate clinical facilities for investigating and treating respiratory disease and increased funding for basic, translational and epidemiological research, and that in the future, based on better surveillance data, the quality of care in respiratory disease and comorbidities will become uniformly harmonised at a high level.