ONTARIO LUNG ASSOCIATION TO GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO: LUNG HEALTH MUST BE PROVINCIAL PRIORITY

Millions of lives and the provincial economy depend on this commitment

TORONTO, June 23, 2011 /CNW/ - A commitment from the Government of Ontario to make lung health a priority is now a race against time as the October 6 provincial election nears, according to the Ontario Lung Association.  The report, newly released by the lung health organization, presents the overwhelming life and economic burden that lung disease accounts for in the province today, while offering a daunting 30-year forecast if immediate action isn't taken.  Called, Your Lungs, Your Life, the report examines three disease areas:  chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and lung cancer and recommends interventions that could be easily implemented, saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars in the provincial economy.

Today, more than 2.4 million people have lung disease, a number that is expected to escalate by 50 per cent over the next 30 years to 3.6 million.  This growth in prevalence bears an astounding price tag that sees already unaffordable healthcare costs escalating further.

The Your Lungs, Your Life report predicts the cumulative economic burden over the next 30 years in the three disease areas:  COPD: $310 billion; asthma: $96 billion and lung cancer: $33 billion. In 2011, the direct and indirect healthcare costs are $3.9 billion, $1.8 billion and $293.9 million respectively.

"Lung disease has crept up under the radar over the last decade to the point where we and other recognized health leaders, including the World Health Organization, now regard lung disease a serious epidemic," says George Habib, president & CEO, Ontario Lung Association. "Our report acknowledges the effective diagnostic and patient care services that already exist in the province.  The problem is, many of these quality services are not widely available to meet the growing demand.  We need to expand these resources and services, and we need to do it today."

Your Lungs, Your Life offers evidence-based intervention scenarios, which, if implemented, could avert the projected spending levels associated with the continuing upward trend in lung disease. The executive summary and complete report are now available at www.on.lung.ca or by calling the organization's Helpline at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).

"We used to say, 'if you breathe, then you have an interest in lung health,'" says Habib.  "While this is still true, interest in lung health has broadened because of the impact it has on so many people's lives and livelihoods.  Now, if you are a taxpayer in Ontario, you are essentially a shareholder in the province's economic success and should be keenly interested in how every healthcare dollar is spent."

More than 40 partners, including healthcare providers, professional associations and patient advocates, have been involved in the research project and join the Ontario Lung Association in the urgent call for a Lung Health Action Plan.

"As practitioners, we are familiar with the personal costs of lung disease and air quality on lung health. The unique aspect of The Your Lungs, Your Life report is that it puts this into economic terms," says Dr. John Granton, past chair, Ontario Thoracic Society and Ontario Lung Association Board Member. "The other unique aspect of this report is that solutions are offered. These solutions are already in place in many communities and have been shown to improve patient outcomes and the quality of care we provide. This document demonstrates that these programs also make sense in economic terms and provide an excellent health and economic return on investment."

Key research statistics

  • 1.7 million Ontarians have asthma; by 2041 the number is expected to be more than 2.5 million with nearly half a million being children under 15
  • 780,000 Ontarians have COPD; by 2041 this number will climb to 1.2 million
    • Approximately 120,000 people suffer from very severe COPD and are at risk of respiratory failure or needing daily oxygen; this number is projected to increase to 200,000 by 2041
  • Nearly 33,000 Ontarians have lung cancer; this number will almost double to 63,000 people by 2041

About the Ontario Lung Association
The Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information and funding for research to improve lung health. We focus on the prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease, tobacco control as well as healthy air and the effects of pollution on lung health. To pledge your support for an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan or for information on lung health, call 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or visit www.on.lung.ca.


SOURCE The Lung Association

For further information:

Karen Petcoff
Ontario Lung Association
kpetcoff@on.lung.ca
416-864-9911 ext. 283/ cellular 647-293-9911

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The Lung Association

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