Policymakers to prevent Europe from suffocating
Estimated by the World Health Organisation to rise to the third leading cause of death by 2020, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is virtually unknown amongst not only the general public but also amongst many healthcare professionals in primary care.
COPD cannot be cured, which makes prevention, a timely diagnosis and a therapy tailored to the patients’ needs all the more important, to ensure that people with COPD can contribute to society and enjoy a good quality of life for as long as possible.
In order to reduce the cost and personal burden of this debilitating disease, the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) recommends that governments:
- Cite COPD explicitly as a warning on tobacco products
- Make access to spirometry testing available to all those at risk
- Improve cooperation between patients, those working in primary care and specialists to ensure a patient-centered management of the disease that supports staying active
- Induce employers to adopt flexible approaches to allow their staff with COPD to remain in the work force
- Support the mobility of people with COPD on oxygen therapy
- Fund research on how to prevent exacerbations
- Address COPD co-morbidities, such as depression
Several countries, including this example from Canada, do include a COPD warning on cigarette packs which could easily be adopted around the globe.