Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects up to 10% of European adults and is the fourth cause of death worldwide, and is expected to be in third place by 2030 (1). As yet, few EU leaders or policy-makers are aware of this fact. Until this changes, little political action will be given to tackle one of the most acute public health issues in Europe.
“As a first step to effectively address this public health threat, we should get much better at raising awareness of this condition. The Scottish Parliament’s motion on World COPD Day is an excellent example of how to make this happen,” argued Catherine Stihler MEP (S&D, UK – pictured here, at the European Parliament) on the occasion of World COPD Day. (2)
COPD is not curable and treatments only affect symptoms. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and given how widespread COPD is, it is unacceptable that this condition has not received more attention in terms of prevention, better care, treatment, research and training of healthcare professionals (3).
“In serious and terminal cases, COPD patients require the use of oxygen tanks to breathe, a situation similar to people suffering from several forms and degrees of disability across Europe. This puts a drain both on family incomes and countries’ productivity and that is why more should be done not only at the European level but also at national levels like in Hungary where access to tobacco products has recently been successfully curbed” argued MEP Ádám Kósa (EPP, HU).
“COPD does not only affect the lives of millions in Europe, it also poses a vast burden to society and Europe’s fragile economies, as COPD accounts for 10.3 billion Euros in healthcare spending a year in Europe (4),” said Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of the European COPD Coalition. “The cumulative cost of COPD in in the EU is €48.4 billion per year,” added Ms. Hartmann (2).
To raise awareness, ECC distributed information leaflets at the European Parliament and the European Commission on Wednesday 19th November 2014.
“COPD is largely preventable and with further research, could be much better treated and managed. It is time that EU decision-makers act on it, and follow our recommendations, implement the ECC Call to Action” (3) concluded Ms. Hartmann.
2. S4M-11429 Rhoda Grant: World COPD Day; World COPD Day is a global initiative led by GOLD, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease
3. See ECC’s Call to Action to seek political impetus to put in place the right framework addressing all aspects of COPD
4. The total COPD related expenses for outpatient care (= not in hospital) in the EU is approximately € 4,7 billion per year. Inpatient care (=in hospital) generates costs of €2,9 billion followed by expenses in pharmaceutical of 2,7 billion per year. COPD, Key Facts