Ireland is trailing behind its European neighbours in the treatment of a progressive lung disease, a leading charity has warned.
COPD Support Ireland, a national charity for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD ), said Ireland has the highest rate of hospitalisations for the disease in the OECD, with 60 per cent more admissions than the UK.
With the approach of World COPD Week this month (November 13 to 17 ), the charity is hosting a nationwide awareness campaign to put a spotlight on the illness, which is the fourth most common cause of death in Ireland after lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Around 500,000 people in Ireland have COPD, with more than 200,000 enduring a moderate or severe form of the disease. Only half of the people with the condition are likely to have been diagnosed.
Bernie Murphy, CEO of COPD Support Ireland, said November was an opportunity for Ireland to learn more about COPD, its symptoms and how to manage it. She added that the awareness week was an opportunity for the charity to plead with the government for greater resources in the treatment of COPD.
“At the moment, we have a fragmented system,” she said. “There is no continuity in follow up treatment following diagnosis and we have a shortage of effective treatments. Location has a strong determinant in how a patient is treated, with good facilities in more urban parts of the country but limited and unsatisfactory assistance for those living in rural areas.
“COPD is not a dirty word, but it is a disease which has been stigmatised because of its links to smoking. Yet, 10 to 15 per cent of people with the condition have never smoked and 30 per cent successfully cease smoking following diagnosis. We want to get the message out there that COPD Support Ireland is here to help, listen and support.”
COPD Ireland is hosting an awareness event in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone on November 14 as part of World COPD Week. The day includes talks on mental health, massage, free lung health checks, pharmaceutical advice, and an opportunity to chat and meet new people.
For more information visit www.copd.ie or check out COPDSupportIreland on Facebook.