Welcome message from the president

Welcome to the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS) website!

PATS was formed to create a representative African respiratory society for the continent and to address the high burden of respiratory illnesses in Africa. The overall aim of PATS is to promote lung health in Africa through education, training, research and advocacy.  Since the first election in 2011, PATS has grown, becoming a voice for lung health in Africa, undertaking educational, research and advocacy initiatives and building African capacity to address the challenges of improving lung health on the continent.  PATS currently has 770 members from 33 different African countries.

African populations bear a disproportionate burden of respiratory morbidity and mortality relative to the population size both from infectious diseases as well as from non-communicable diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.  There is a very high burden of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and HIV-associated respiratory illness. Asthma and tobacco associated respiratory disease are common.  Biomass fuel use is ubiquitous and a major contributor to the prevalence of pulmonary infections, malignancy and COPD. Childhood respiratory illness is the commonest cause of mortality and morbidity in children under 5 years, with around 20% of deaths due to childhood pneumonia, the main cause of death in African children. This is compounded by the high proportion of children (approximately 30-50%) who make up African populations. Therefore it is essential that PATS maintain a strong voice  to represent African lung health issues and that PATS further develop educational, research and advocacy initiatives. 

Current sentinel activities and projected growth for the next 5 years, are as follows:

The first inaugural PATS conference is scheduled for 2016 in Kenya. An organising and scientific committee has been established, a draft program developed and a venue established. 

  • The African Journal of Respiratory Medicine (AJRM) is closely linked with PATS, including a PATS-elected Editorial Board. The AJRM focuses on lung health conditions that are pertinent to Africa publishing evidence based reviews and scientific articles on these, so is a unique African resource. Editions of the AJRM are posted on the website and a limited number of print copies are also produced.
  • PATS has an established website enabling efficient communication with members, dissemination of information, applications for MECOR courses, access to the AJRM and other society activities. We hope to further strengthen and develop this as a dynamic portal for members to access information, link to other sources of information, obtain educational materials, take on-line courses and provide educational, training and research opportunities. 
  • Continuing medical education activities.  PATS wants to develop a series of CME activities linked to the most pressing respiratory conditions in Africa including asthma, COPD, childhood pneumonia and TB.  These will initially be done through the website or through the AJRM.  In addition, a regular annual CME meeting is invisaged, with the first meeting coinciding with the PATS conference in 2016. 
  • The Pan African Thoracic Society programme in Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research (PATS-MECOR) began in 2007 to develop clinical research capacity in Africa. PATS places high priority on training in research methods to develop much needed research capacity in Africa. The PATS-MECOR course has provided Level 1, 2, and 3 courses with seed grants for the last 6 years. Over 120 trainees from 16 countries have benefited from this course, progressing to collect data, present their findings in meetings and journals and influence policy in their countries.
  • PATS undertakes advocacy activities to promote awareness of key lung health issues of relevance to African populations such as childhood pneumonia, TB, COPD and asthma. These activities have been largely centred around the specific world lung days that marks each of these, often in collaboration with key global organisations.
  • PATS is an active member of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), an organization comprised of the world’s leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally: American Thoracic Society (ATS), American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), Asociación Latinoamericana De Tórax (ALAT), Asia Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union) and the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS). The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than 70,000 members globally. PATS has actively contributed to the advocacy agenda and to the outputs of FIRS such as the Global Roadmap of Respiratory Diseases, produced in 2013. Membership of FIRS has raised awareness of the burden and challenges to achieve lung health in Africa. I currently serves as Chair of FIRS.  PATS will continue to actively engage with FIRS to enable African lung health to feature prominently on the global agenda.

If you are a health professional concerned with the health of people in Africa, then please consider becoming a member of PATS and contributing actively to the society.  There is much to do to improve lung health in Africa – together we can do better to promote better health for African children, adults and families.

Professor Heather Zar
President, PATS
Dec 2014