Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
The Federal Health Minister
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Honourable Health Minister Aglukkaq;
I do not know how many of you have heard of the term COPD. This stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a relatively new term for chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other obstructive lung ailments other than asthma.
This disease at present kills one person in Canada every 20 minutes and is currently the fourth largest killer right behind heart attacks, strokes and cancer. That is one person every 20 minutes or 3 people every hour of every day of every week of every year. Is this acceptable?? No. Could more be done?? Yes, a lot more.
Lets start with education. A large number of health professionals themselves do not recognize or diagnose COPD. Most of the general public have never even heard of COPD.
We need to make people more aware of their lung health. A simple, non invasive breathing test can quickly determine a persons lung function. The device used is a spirometer you simply blow into it just like a breath test to determine blood alcohol content. The hand held units are quite inexpensive yet most doctors offices do not test lung function or even have a spirometer in them. It should be an examination given at the time of a yearly physical. Just the same as the doctor checks your blood pressure, temperature, weight, check heart and lung sounds with a stethoscope and the other things checked in an annual physical examination. Early detection of a problem leads to a diagnosis and suitable treatment for an ailment.
We desperately need to throw away old concepts and beliefs. Yes, COPD is incurable but it is treatable and manageable. A long and very useful life is being had by a large number of people diagnosed with COPD now. Due primarily to better education and management of the many facets of COPD.
Remember the old adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure?? Well, it still holds true today.
In the face of escalating hospital and medical costs it has been proven, without a doubt, that proper education and rehabilitation programs, save money big time, by cutting down on expensive hospital admissions and stays.
Much more has to be done to organize and promote many more rehabilitation programs for people with COPD. You have to spend a little to save a lot in the long run. There are no shortcuts.
Current estimates show that only about 2% of those diagnosed with COPD have any access to pulmonary rehabilitation programs. In 2005, Canada’s Public Health Agency reported there was 754,700 physician diagnosed cases. That puts the number able to attend Rehab at a mere 15,094 individuals.
There are many cardiac rehabilitation programs already in place. Would it not be feasible to combine the two programs since, with the exception of the monitoring and maintaining of adequate blood oxygen levels with Pulmonary Rehab, the programs are almost identical?? After all the heart does not function without the lungs working and vice versa.
It is time to put aside the old belief that smoking is the only cause of COPD and that everyone that smoked brought this on themselves. This is false. We are slowly coming to the realization that there are many factors that contribute to the damages of our lungs. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling the polluted air we have today is cause for alarm. Our air is loaded with toxins and volatile organic compounds, not to mention the harmful effects of second hand smoke, industrial chemicals, toxic fumes, exhaust gasses.
We have to get serious about air pollution and be more proactive in identifying workplace dangers that injure the lungs. Farming, firefighting, welding, construction, manufacturing and a host of other occupations need to be assessed for danger to our lungs.
More funding is needed to promote stem cell therapy and other medical advances through research. As well as more pharmaceutical research into better medications or delivery methods.
We at COPD Canada Patients Network have taken it upon ourselves to act as advocates in promoting education, networking, problem solving, and a myriad of other chores that encompasses this disease. And, we need to get the stigma of having Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease lifted from the medical fields.
I urge you to peruse our website at www.copdcanada.ca and make any comments or suggestions you might have to help us make things happen for all our benefits. We not only have this website and the organization, but we also have a very proactive forum for the exchange of information and helpful hints.
Please, won’t you help us? COPD is increasing and that trend will continue as the baby boomers age. Especially in the next 10 years. How we deal with it now, and how we plan to deal with it down the road; is a major concern for us all.
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