To mark World COPD Day 2017, ECC is helping putting faces to the disease, as COPD remains a disease mainly “invisible” to the lay population. Despite being a severe respiratory disease that affects up to 10% of the European adult population and is estimated to be the 3rd leading cause of death by 2030 (according to the World Health Organisation), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is largely unknown, highly underestimated and therefore under-diagnosed and under-treated, while almost fully preventable.
A study showed that in 2010, 66 million lived with COPD in the European region and every hour, 250 people die because of COPD; among them, 300 000 are Europeans. That is the equivalent of 3 Fukushima per year.
For policy makers to understand the necessity to act, we make COPD more visible and “real” with sharing portraits of people living with the disease, or working on the subject – healthcare professionals as well as informal carers. WE developed together with the European Respiratory Society (ERS) a campaign entitled “Faces of COPD”, which displays portraits of patients, nurses, physiotherapists and other individuals concerned with COPD. The pictures are visible in the Brussels EU district main metro stations on the week starting on the 13th and will serve as a backdrop to free lung breathing capacity testing (“spirometry) in the Berlaymont, on the 20th of November.
The aim is to “put a face to a disease” and raise awareness about the still relatively unknown disease, COPD, to make it real and more approachable, to foster better understanding and care.
The key message we are conveying is that COPD deserves better notice, attention and more importantly, uptake by policy makers.
This is Pierre, who is struggling to quit smoking but who regularly attends a pulmonary rehabilitation session, in the centre of France where he lives, to help maintain his already low breathing capacity by performing light supervised physical activity.
Frank is a Belgian patient advocate on a rare form of COPD, alpha antitrypsin 1 deficiency (“Alpha One”), a genetic condition that affects the lungs and liver. He supports patients in sharing best practice on access to care, treatment, and social support, as well as advocacy.
Isabel is also a Portuguese patient who voices the concerns of the European citizens living with respiratory illnesses, as the Head of the European Lung Foundation (ELF).
Together and with the wider EU respiratory health community, we call on the European political leaders to:
- Protect their citizens and prevent the outbreak of the disease by further restricting access to tobacco, the number one risk factor of COPD as well as implementing strong policies on air quality,
- Support and promote further research on the disease, and not only clinical research, but also on the social and environmental factors, or the underlying causes of COPD, see our video for more information
- Mainstream COPD in chronic diseases related European strategies,
- Sustain national plans or programmes on COPD.
Read more in our Call to Action on COPD.