Even if all smokers were to quite immediately COPD would remain prevalent for “years to come”, it is claimed.
According to Breda Flood, President of the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Association (EFA), while smoking cessation is important, “timelier and more accurate diagnosis of COPD” is crucial to reducing the EUR32.8bn spent on addressing the disease.
It is argued EU and Member States should implement key recommendations, developed by the EFA in two workshops held in the European Parliament, “as soon as possible” in order to prevent an average estimate of 10% of Europeans from suffocating over the next decade.
Recommendations include: the explicit citation of COPD as warning on tobacco products; improve co-operation between patients, those working in primary care and specialists to ensure a patient-centred management of the disease that supports staying active; address COPD co-morbidities, such as depression.
The EFA claims countries such Denmark and Finland have proven investments in COPD have been “worthwhile” in reducing health inequalities.
The Finnish COPD programme managed to curb societal costs related to COPD by 88%, thanks to a combination of awareness-raising of the general public, smoking cessation policies, education of those working in primary care and an increased availability of COPD testing.
Days spent in hospital dropped “drastically” from 34.607 in 1997 to 18.018 in 2007.
"The Finnish good practice example needs to be emulated throughout Europe,” said MEP Karin Kadenbach.
“The EU has an obligation to ensure that health inequalities related to COPD are eradicated for the benefits of patients, but also with a view of curbing the societal burden of the disease."