300 primary care colleagues from 15 different countries–mainly in the South Asian region–attended the meeting. Those unable to attend in person were also able to watch sessions virtually, with over 2,000 people, mostly from China and the Middle East, accessing the conference remotely. The FRESH AIR project had a visible presence throughout the conference. Sessions were held on all the different FRESH AIR themes, reflecting the similarities between the needs of the communities involved in the project and those of the South Asian region.
Highlights included workshops on spirometry and diagnostics, including a demonstration of the SpiroSmart phone technology being used in FRESH AIR.
There was a lively session on caring for children with breathing problems, which contained interesting insights from Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Kyrgyz Republic.
FRESH AIR contributed to a session on implementing pulmonary rehabilitation in low- and middle-income countries, and heard from colleagues in Bangladesh who have been inspired to start two of their own programmes with promising results.
Treating tobacco dependence was also an important theme, including a session from the WHO Regional Lead for South East Asia, Jagdish Kaur.
There was also a discussion session on finding local solutions for the world's biggest problem, indoor air pollution. This covered FRESH AIR’s work in the Kyrgyz Republic, Greece, Uganda and Vietnam, as well as the work of colleagues in slums in Bangalore, Preeti Sushama and Cristian Ghergu–who won the prize for best oral presentation.
Members of the FRESH AIR team also led a research writing school as part of the conference. These sessions aimed to help aspiring South Asian researchers keen to hone this important skill, and were very warmly appreciated.
The FRESH AIR team would like to thank the young doctors who were excellent, knowledgeable and courteous hosts; the Chair of the Scientific Programme Committee, Prof Savi Wimalasekera (one of the FRESH AIR Scientific Advisory Committee); the Chair of the Organising Committee, Dr Seneth Samaranayake; and all of the IPCRG's Sri Lankan group, Primary Care Respiratory Group Sri Lanka.