People who suffer from COPD do not usually go to see a specialist or primary care physician as they believe they have a mere smoker’s cough or just flu. Instead, a timely detection of the disease could improve the quality of life of patients and their families and reduce the economic burden of COPD. An example of best-practice is the case of Denmark. The Danish Health Board recommended screening for COPD on the basis of a study that had demonstrated that, with 10% of General Practitioners (GPs) participating and 3,095 people screened, 35% was diagnosed as suffering from COPD and, among these, 80% with a mild to moderate condition of the disease. It was estimated that 180 million EUR of annual healthcare costs were saved with this early detection system.
In more recent years, the focus of EFA’s COPD Project activities have been upon promoting best practice and raising awareness. The members of the EFA COPD Working Group clearly requested EFA to follow up on its previous COPD publication, EFA Book on COPD in Europe: Sharing and Caring, and pinpoint a list of minimum standards of care for COPD patients in Europe. In 2013, EFA surveyed its members representing COPD patients, who successfully identified gaps in care within their own national contexts. The results of the survey were then analyzed and compiled into a new EFA publication, the EFA Book on Minimum Standards of Care for COPD patients in Europe, which was presented at the joint EFA/European COPD Coalition (ECC) event to mark the 2013 World COPD Day on 28 November, 2013 in Brussels. The new COPD book highlights the best practices of certain countries while also identifying gaps in care common to many European countries. As a result, EFA established 8 minimum standards of care within the publication addressing various issues of fundamental importance ranging from early diagnosis to access for pulmonary rehabilitation.
This year in the COPD Project builds on the momentum from the release of EFA’s 2013 publication Minimum Standards of Care for COPD Patients in Europe focusing on three of the eight minimum standards of care for COPD patients in Europe identified by EFA members in the book:
Rehabilitation – improvement and smoking cessation as a part of rehabilitation
A survey will be distributed addressing ‘How health checks are done for those at risk for COPD’ and ‘How rehabilitation will be achieved in each country’ to EFA members representing COPD patients as well as experts in the field of COPD from the European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) and other national level organisations. The results will be compiled into a report which will help EFA gain insight into these specific issues. To help in achieving progress in achieving these minimum standards of care, EFA will create dialogue and decisions from the ERS and IPCRG to define concrete steps and make decisions for closer cooperation between pulmonary specialists and general practitioners. A meeting is foreseen to serve as a first step in helping to identify collaborative ways to improve early diagnosis and encourage multidisciplinary approaches.
EFA’s members are also to be given an opportunity to have meetings in their countries speaking directly to national payers organisations to discuss reimbursement policies for COPD medications. Representatives from the ERS and IPCRG could be available to join the EFA member in Portugal for their meeting. A press release for World COPD Day 2014 will present the results of the meetings and also comment on the outcome of the meeting with airline CEOs.
Lastly, translations of the publication in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Portuguese are planned to be finished and approved by EFA members for Autumn 2014.
The EFA COPD Project has been devoted to raising awareness for COPD both among the public and amongst policymakers to make it a greater political priority in Europe. The project was officially launched on 30 June 2010 at the European Parliament with the presentation of the EFA Book on COPD in Europe: Sharing and Caring and the presentation of its Call to Action on COPD . The event, hosted by Member of European Parliament (MEP) Catherine Stihler, aimed to shed light on the impact of COPD on European societies and to unite medical, political and patient communities to adopt a coordinated and comprehensive EU-wide strategy on COPD.
To continue the momentum, EFA planned two workshops at the European Parliament for the COPD Project in 2011. A year after the launch event, EFA hosted the 1st COPD Workshop at the European Parliament to follow-up on the EFA Call to Action on COPD. EFA invited leading specialists, public health experts and national representatives to the event, hosted by MEP Seán Kelly, to focus discussion on prevention and diagnosis of COPD. Several months later, MEPs Seán Kelly and Karin Kadenbach generously agreed to host the 2nd COPD Workshop and EFA invited previously participating organisations to return to the European Parliament to discuss COPD care and research needs. The 2nd COPD Workshop at the European Parliament was dedicated to discussions of care and research of the disease and how it undermines the European economy.
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