Chin Med J (Engl). 2020 Jul 5;133(13):1513-1515.
The Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations, institutions, and agencies committed to the vision of “a world where all people breathe freely.” Its goal is to reduce the global burden of chronic respiratory disease (CRD).
The GARD initiative was set up to respond to a resolution of the World Health Assembly in May 2000 (Resolution WHA53.17) that emphasized the need to increase awareness of the growing epidemic of CRDs worldwide. A program was begun to design a comprehensive approach to the prevention and control of CRDs.[1,2] The resolution was approved by the General Assembly of World Health Organization (WHO) in 2004. The first meetings of GARD were held at WHO headquarters in Geneva in January and May 2005.[1,3] Its management was established with an Executive Committee, Planning Group, and GARD General Assembly. GARD is a global and multidisciplinary alliance that is charged with helping developing countries; representation from all WHO regions, especially middle and low-income countries, is essential. The structure of GARD management was revised in 2019 to ensure that all major member organizations are represented on the Planning Group.
Jean Bousquet was elected the first Chair, Ronald Dahl the co-Chair, and Nikolai Khaltaev directed the WHO Secretariat. The terms of reference were reviewed with the goals and objectives of GARD. Six working groups were formed; they drew upon existing materials, integrated with WHO initiatives, to develop comprehensive and affordable programs for the management, control, and prevention of CRDs that could be implemented at the country level.
GARD has four strategic objectives: advocacy, partnership, national plans, and surveillance. Its main objective is to promote a comprehensive approach to fight CRD by:
- 1. Developing a standard way of obtaining relevant data on the burden of disease and risk factors
- 2. Advocating for action
- 3. Encouraging countries to implement policies for health promotion and prevention
- 4. Developing simple and affordable strategies for management
GARD supports WHO in successfully implementing the WHO's Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013 to 2020. At the last General Meeting, in 2019 in Beijing, GARD adopted the “Beijing Call to Action for Lung Health Promotion” with four key priority areas that conform with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.4:
- 1. Advocating for action on CRDs
- 2. Fostering multi-sectoral action to reduce risk factors for CRDs
- 3. Strengthening primary health care to achieve universal health coverage for CRDs
- 4. Supporting research
GARD's greatest achievement has been its ability to forge collaborative partnerships and develop a shared vision with a large number of parties. Preventing and controlling CRDs and keeping them on the global health agenda will require the ongoing energies of all involved in GARD[6,7] and is a step toward allowing all people to breathe more freely.