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This month patients associations have mobilized at national level through a wide variety of activities to raise awareness about allergy (UK), indoor air quality in schools (Sweden), asthma (Finland), access to rehabilitation for COPD patients (Bulgaria) or the effects air pollution has in our lungs (Poland).

#LivingInFear: Allergy UK awareness week campaign

EFA Member Allergy UK’s Allergy Awareness Week took place in April, and the charity used the week to inform the public about the different types of allergy, focusing particularly on severe reactions like anaphylaxis.

According the patients’ charity latest research, 44% of allergy sufferers are living in fear of a serious reaction. Their survey also revealed that 68% of people wouldn’t know how to deal with a reaction and this lack of public knowledge could be forcing sufferers into a life of fear and anxiety.

To change this trend they launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #LivingInFear. Supporters shared photos of themselves holding up a piece of paper which revealed their personal fear.

Positive Government developments for Swedish patients!

EFA Member the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association welcomes the Swedish government proposal to fully reimburse medicines to all children under 18, including asthma and allergy. This is great news for families with allergic children as treatment pose a real burden: for many families, the child’s illness means additional costs in addition to essential medicines , such as cost of food, travel , moisturizing ointments and the like which are not covered by the reimbursement system. The initiative will enter into force from 2016.

The association also welcomed the proposal to improve air quality in school facilities but is mobilizing to have a stronger national legislation on the renovation of school facilities. The current proposal presented in the Spring Fiscal Policy Bill foresees an investment of €37 million for the period 2015-2018 to support the rehabilitation and energy efficiency of school facilities. Although patients welcome this initiative, they are calling on the Government to increase the coverage of this proposal and to fully include preschool premises, high schools and secondary special schools infrastructures under the reforms.

According to recent evidence, asthma among Swedish children increased from 6 in 2003 to 9% in 2011. Moreover, school performance can improved up to 29% with good air circulation in schools.

Finns will exercise to celebrate the World Asthma Day

Moving is an essential part in treatment of asthma. To commemorate the World Asthma Day, EFA Member the Finnish Allergy and Asthma Federation has launched a campaign to encourage elderly people to exercise on 5th of May. Several leisure and sport organizations participate the campaign providing sport events and discounts or free entries on their services. Also asthma is often unnoticed among elderly people. If you are in Finland, do not hesitate to participate!

Bulgarian asthma and COPD patients mobilized to have equal right to rehabilitation

The new Bulgarian Ministry of Health issued a methodology to allocate subsidies to medical institutions for 2015 that clearly discriminates patients living with chronic lung diseases. In the methodology, the Ministry states that access to treatment and rehabilitation will be reimbursed only to those patients that have been diagnosed with over 50% of pulmonary capacity loss or recognized disability. EFA Member the Association of Bulgarians with Bronchial Asthma, Allergy and COPD (ABBA) considers this approach is discriminatory as it leaves out the provision of individual equal access to health services, indecently of the severity of the disease. The patients association requested the revision of this methodology through advocacy letters to the institution and by a public denunciation on national TV.

New evidence from Poland confirms the link between air pollution and respiratory disease

EFA Member the Polish Federation of Asthma, Allergy and COPD Patients’ Organisations together with the Military Institute of Medicine and Warsaw University of Technology has published new evidence linking the effects of the pollutants in the air generated by traffic and the effects on our respiratory and lung health.  From 2008 to 2012, researchers followed a group of almost 5,000 people living near seven busy roads across Poland to learn more about the influence on human health of traffic-related air pollutants. Their study confirmed that living in the vicinity of urban busy roads resulted in lower lung function. This exposure to air pollutants is estimated to account annually for 1,604 disability-adjusted life years (DALY), a considerable loss on quality of life if we take into account that the estimates only refer to Warsaw. Moreover, according to the researchers, around 5,201 asthma symptoms and 234 hospital respiratory admissions are caused annually due to air pollution. The study also demonstrates a significant impact of air pollution on infants and children, which is manifested primarily as a range of respiratory problems.

Poland has some of the most polluted air in Europe – rating just above Bulgaria, which was the bottom of the rankings in a recent study by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Mini Marathon in Ireland to support COPD patients

Do you wish to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in a healthy way? EFA Member COPD Support Ireland is looking for volunteers to run or walk the VHI Women’s mini marathon to raise awareness of COPD and help fundraise for their important work. Money raised will contribute to promoting physical activity programmes, setting up a local support groups and public awareness campaigns. If you wish to join, please contact the organisers.