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Uganda is a low income country  which shares characteristics with other  Sub-Saharan African countries. Only 12% of Uganda’s population have access to electricity –  falling to 2-6% in rural areas. Biomass fuel which is used extensively: wood fuel in rural areas and charcoal in urban. Rates of tobacco consumption are high amongst men.  There is very low public awareness of the health dangers of smoke. 

A range of FRESH AIR programme activities have taken place and others are now underway in Uganda. These include a prevalence study, training community health workers in rural Uganda to introduce stop smoking interventions in the context of a lung health awareness campaign and particiaption  in the FRESH AIR Horizon 2020 project.  You can read about these activities in the Uganda page here  FRESH AIR Horizon 2020 in Uganda.


Prevalence study 2010

The main objective of the original FRESH AIR study sponsored by IPCRG, with funding from Mundipharma, in 2010 was to conduct a population-based, cross-sectional epidemiological study on the prevalence of COPD and its risk factors in resource-poor settings of a rural area in Uganda among 300 men and 300 women above the age of 30 years.

The four objectives:


  • To educate and train local healthcare workers in the knowledge of COPD to ensure they are able to identify feasible options and then set priorities on the basis of current evidence
  • To conduct a population-based epidemiological study on prevalence and severity of COPD, and its risk factors particularly tobacco smoking and indoor air pollution in resource-poor settings of a rural area
  • To evaluate the burden of COPD in terms of its impact on quality of life, activity limitations, respiratory symptoms, and use of health care services in resource-poor settings of a rural area
  • To measure the direct exposure to biomass smoke (PM25), 24-hour mean exposure, in the indoor environment of resource-poor settings of a rural area, combined with a qualitative assessment of the cooking tradition and behaviour of people with COPD.


Thesis book by Frederik van Gemert for his PhD awarded 10 April 2017 link to digital flip book:

Final publication from the prevalence survey and editorial in Lancet Global Health

van Gemert F.  Prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and associated risk factors in Uganda (FRESH AIR Uganda): a prospective cross-sectional observational study  (pdf) Lancet Glob Health 2015; 3: e44–51       DOI:

Salvi S. The silent epidemic of COPD in Africa. The Lancet Global Health, Volume 3 , Issue 1 , e6 - e7

Previous articles including qualitative survey and presentations at European Respiratory Society congresses

 Letters from the project Principal Investigator, Dr Frederik van Gemert 2010-2014

 The Fresh Air Uganda documentary


Fresh Air Uganda Video from IPCRG.

A Midwife-Led Project to prevent lung damage to pregnant women and small children in Uganda

Midwife-Led Lung Health Education Project from IPCRG on Vimeo.

Training community health workers in rural Uganda to introduce stop smoking interventions in the context of a lung health awareness campaign. 

IPCRG has been awarded one of the first Global Bridges awards in low and middle income countries.  Work started in 2014 in Masindi, Uganda on a tobacco dependence education programme in the context of lung health. 


  1. To let people know we are developing a pulmonary rehab programme in Kampala for treating people with chronic lung disease including COPD and post TB lung disease. The pilot study starts in April. I will also be visiting the Masindi area with Bruce and delivering FEV6 spirometers to the rural clinics.

  2. The team's qualitative study published July 2013.

  3. I had an opportunity of attending a workshop on the outcome of the study which was carried out in Masindi on the issue of Household Air Pollution and effects they have on chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The results were massive and a solution is needed now. There are so many causes of COPD unfortunately little has been explored about the dangers of the energy we use for cooking food. For example, Although there are studies which have pointed at fumes emitted by traditional fuels, in Uganda little has been done to explore this.

    If the results from Masindi are to go by, we need to start now to find solution to this monster which we have lived with for many years.