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Launch of COPD Support Ireland

A new patient organisation aimed at providing support for almost half a million Irish people living with a potentially deadly respiratory condition was launched by Mr Alex White TD, Minister of State, Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care at an event in Dublin on Monday, 21st October.

COPD Support Ireland is a charity set up to support all those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung condition that makes it hard for sufferers to breathe due to obstruction of the airways in their lungs. It is Ireland’s first national COPD support and advocacy body, bringing together local support groups from around the country, to help those living with, and caring for someone with, COPD.

COPD is a major cause of death and disability1 and mainly affects those over 40 years of age. While it can lead to severe debility and social isolation, it is preventable.

COPD Support Ireland’s centralised organisational structure aims to strengthen the support available to service users and advocate for those directly affected by the debilitating disease, both at a local and governmental level.

Michael McGloin, President of COPD Support Ireland, who was diagnosed with COPD 14 years ago and has worked tirelessly at a grassroots level to raise awareness of COPD, spoke at the launch of the new charity:
“COPD is destined to be the third leading cause of death globally by 2020, and with Ireland’s ageing population, it is an issue that we as a nation simply cannot ignore. This disease needs to be prioritised immediately if we are to avoid a future health time bomb. When I was first diagnosed with COPD in 1999 I found it hard to learn more about the disease and what I could expect from it. This led me to set up a support group in Sligo to help others with this condition. I hope that the development of this national organisation will provide much needed support and comfort for those currently living with the disease, and also those recently diagnosed.”

Commenting on the launch of the new national group Damien Peelo, CEO, COPD Support Ireland said that there was a significant need for more awareness and action to tackle this devastating condition:
“Recent research has highlighted the general lack of understanding and awareness of COPD as a disease across society, so the establishment of COPD Support Ireland will provide not only a valuable education and support resource for those living with the disease, but also a mechanism to advocate on behalf of the COPD community. Ultimately, we’re aiming to bring COPD out of the shadows and give those affected by this disease not only a national voice, but hope for the future.”

It is estimated that there are more than 440,000 people with COPD in Ireland1, and the disease is destined to be the third leading cause of death in the world by 20201. Recent research found that over a third of people (36%) with COPD said that the lung disease had a detrimental effect on their careers, with almost a fifth (19%) indicating that it forced them to retire early2. The vast majority of those surveyed (82%) were not familiar with its symptoms2. The main risk factor for COPD is smoking, which causes 85-90% of COPD deaths3.

A new COPD app has also been developed to assist healthcare professionals to diagnose a patient’s symptoms and keep track of their treatment progression. It is supported by the Irish Thoracic Society and available for free download from the app store.

According to Professor Tim Mc Donnell, National HSE Clinical Lead, HSE COPD Programme and speaker at the event:
“COPD is major contributor to hospitalisations and has a detrimental impact on quality of life. Worryingly, Irish mortality rates for COPD are amongst the highest in Europe – higher than the former Eastern Bloc countries of Kazakhstan and Romania – and our ageing population means that the prevalence of COPD is set to increase.

COPD Support Ireland’s first major step as a new national organisation was the announcement of a unique week-long series of free screening events that will be taking place across the country next month to coincide with World COPD Day. A dedicated COPD screening bus will travel to a number of cities nationwide from Monday 18th to Friday 22nd of November.
Specialist nurses will be available to screen patients for COPD and COPD Support Ireland will have local members on hand to provide practical advice and support for those looking for information on the disease. World COPD Day information packs will also be sent to hospitals throughout the country.

The COPD screening bus will visit the following locations;

  • Dublin, Monday 18th November
  • Sligo, Tuesday 19th November
  • Mayo, Wednesday 20th November (World COPD Day)
  • Waterford, Thursday 21St November
  • Cork, Friday 22nd November

To learn more about COPD, its symptoms, treatment, the COPD screening bus route and World COPD Day, please visit http://www.copd.ie.
 

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