The ITS launches report on scale and cost of respiratory disease 2008

Launch of INHALE 2nd Edition (Ireland Needs Healthier Airways and Lungs – The Evidence) Report Reveals the Scale and Cost of Respiratory Disease in Ireland.

Press Release

The Irish Thoracic Society (ITS) is calling for a respiratory strategy to tackle the rising health and economic burden of lung disease, as revealed by a report launched today, 26th February, by Mr Pat The Cope Gallagher, TD, Minister for State at the Department of Health and Children

INHALE 2nd Edition compiled by Dr Neil Brennan and Dr Terry O’Connor in conjunction with the ITS, reveals that Ireland is falling behind in the fight against respiratory disease and now has one of the highest respiratory death rates in Europe.

Speaking at the launch of the Report, Minister Gallagher said:

‘I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of the authors of this the second INHALE report. It is their intention to provide a benchmark for tracking changes and assessing trends in the mortality, morbidity and treatment of respiratory disease against the first report published in 2003 as well as future reports. I hope that the report will help to highlight and improve awareness and understanding of the extent of lung disease in Ireland.’

In the five years since the first Inhale Report was published:

Deaths from respiratory disease have overtaken those from coronary heart disease.

The number of lung cancer deaths in women are approaching those from breast cancer and the gap between these two diseases has narrowed by two thirds.

Ireland has moved from 4th to 2nd place in the league of European countries with the highest death rate from respiratory disease. Now only Kyrgyzstan (formerly part of the Soviet Uniton) has a death rate from respiratory disease higher than Ireland.

Although progress has been made in reducing the numbers of deaths from respiratory disease this progress is slow:

Respiratory disease still causes one in five deaths in Ireland.

Death rates from respiratory disease are almost twice the EU average.

Lung cancer is still the biggest cancer killer in Ireland.

Statistics on the prevalence and cost of respiratory disease show a similarly bleak picture:

Respiratory disease is still among the most commonly reported long-term illnesses in young adults.

Respiratory diseases are still the most common reason to visit a GP and the third most common reason for acute admission to hospital.

Drug prescriptions for respiratory disease are amongst the highest for any organ system.

“The statistics bear out what ITS members and, more importantly their patients, are experiencing first hand right across the board. Respiratory disease is a major cause of death and diminished quality of life is responsible for the suffering of tens of thousands of Irish citizens each year. Whether it’s Lung cancer, Asthma, *COPD, Tuberculosis or Cystic Fibrosis – the picture is the same: death rates and prevalence are either rising or higher than they should be and the resources to effectively prevent, diagnose and treat these diseases are inadequate”, said the report’s author Dr Neil Brennan.

Dr JJ Gilmartin, President of the Irish Thoracic Society said: ‘The message is clear. Decisive action is needed to stem the rising health and economic burden of respiratory disease. On behalf of the respiratory healthcare community, The Irish Thoracic Society is calling for an integrated and adequately resourced respiratory strategy. We believe that this should be underpinned by strong linkages between hospital, community and primary care. We believe this to be the best way forward for our patients. Without it it is likely that when we report again in five years time the picture will be no better, if not worse. For the sake of our patients, we must ensure this is not the case.’

Dr Gilmartin went on to acknowledge and welcome steps that have been taken to date in tackling respiratory disease. He cited examples ranging from joint hospital/community based initiatives such as Assisted Early Discharge, COPD Outreach and Pulmonary Rehabilitation programmes to the introduction of the smoking ban in March 2004 and the anti-smoking initiatives of the Office of Tobacco Control. He also commended work currently being undertaken by the National COPD Strategy Group and the National Tuberculosis Advisory Committee.

‘We believe that all these initiatives are working towards providing a better system of care for our patients. However we believe that without the cohesion of an overarching strategy they will fail to achieve their full potential. As respiratory healthcare professionals we are committed to working in partnership with government and the HSE to bring this about,’ concluded Dr Gilmartin.

*Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease