Ontario Lung Association to Ontario Voters: Both Lung Health and the Economy Need to be a Priority

New Poll Shows 9 out of 10 Ontarians Would Support an Investment in Lung Health

TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2011 /CNW/ - According to a new Leger Marketing poll conducted for the Ontario Lung Association, 9 out of 10 of Ontarians would support the Ontario government investing in lung health today if it would save future healthcare spendingi.

Based on recent life and economic burden research and consultations with allied health care partners, the Ontario Lung Association has calculated that for every $1 invested in lung health, $3 could be saved in future healthcare costs.  This is in addition to the thousands of lives that would be saved by such investments.

The Ontario Lung Association is using this evidence to urgently call on the province's next government to make lung health a priority and to establish a province-wide Ontario Lung Health Action Plan.  In collaboration with more than 40 lung health stakeholders, the Lung Association is encouraging voters to talk to their candidates about lung health and the necessity for the Ontario Government to commit to a coordinated cross-cabinet effort to mitigate costs of lung health to taxpayers and Ontario families.

The Growing Threat of Lung Disease

Today, more than 2.4 million people in Ontario are living with lung disease, a number that - without improvements to the province's approach to lung health - is expected to escalate by 50 per cent over the next 30 years to 3.6 million Ontarians.

Research commissioned by the Ontario Lung Association helps to quantify the scope and costs of lung disease in the province, now and thirty years into the future. Detailed in a report called Your Lungs, Your Life: Insights and Solutions to Lung Health In Ontarioii, the research examines three disease areas - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and lung cancer - and recommends interventions that could be easily implemented by the Government of Ontario to save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

"Overwhelmingly, nine out of every 10 Ontarians are saying an investment in lung health makes sense," says George Habib, president and CEO, Ontario Lung Association.  "The province's physicians, nurses and respiratory communities are saying it makes sense.  The message can't get much clearer:  the time for an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan is right now."

For the 2.4 million Ontarians currently living with lung disease an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan would mean fewer days of missed work or school, fewer hospital visits, shorter hospital stays, higher productively and overall a better quality of life.  And for all taxpayers it will save billions of dollars in direct and indirect healthcare costs.

"Given the pressure that chronic disorders are putting on the healthcare system, as well as the economy, maintaining the status quo no longer makes sense," says Jan Kasperski, CEO of the Ontario College of Family Physicians and member of the Ontario Lung Association's Stakeholder Panel.  "That is why we are joining the Ontario Lung Association to ask all election candidates to make lung health a priority.  The Lung Association research provides clear direction for advancement in lung health, and identifies significant savings within our reach."

Lung health affects us all, whether through personal experience or economic impact.  The Ontario Lung Association is telling Ontario voters: don't blow it on October 6th.  Help millions of Ontarians breathe easier by joining the call for an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan.  Ontarians can visit www.on.lung.ca/election2011 to get involved, and to download a copy of Your Lungs, Your Life.

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.

Notes for Editors:

What is an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan?

The primary goals of a comprehensive, cross-cabinet initiative would be to improve lung health and prevent lung disease among Ontarians while saving the province the associated costs.  The plan should:

  • Promote respiratory health among Ontarians
  • Accelerate investment in all areas of lung health research
  • Recognize the importance of prevention, detection and early intervention
  • Improve indoor and outdoor air quality in Ontario
  • Ensure fair and equitable patient access to all proven and effective classes of medication, devices and evidence-based supports.

Key Research Results

  • Your Lungs, Your Life: Insights and Solutions to Lung Health in Ontario is a life and economic burden report undertaken by the Ontario Lung Association to gain a better understanding of the current and future state of lung health in Ontario.  It paints a picture of lung disease today and into the future, by outlining the extent and scope of three significant diseases: lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.
  • Today, more than 2.4 million people are living with lung disease, a number that is expected to escalate by 50 per cent over the next 30 years to 3.6 million.
    • When you count the caregivers, families, friends, colleagues and employers of the 2.4 million Ontarians, the number of Ontarians directly or indirectly affected by lung disease is astounding
  • 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
  • Nearly 33,000 Ontarians have lung cancer; this number will almost double to 63,000 by 2041
    • In 2011, the direct and indirect healthcare costs associated with lung cancer, asthma and COPD are $3.9 billion, $1.8 billion and $293.9 million respectively. These costs are predicted to grow over the next 30 years will grow to:  $310 billion for COPD; $96 billion for asthma; and, $33 billion for lung cancer
  • Practical intervention, based on the expertise and infrastructure that already existing within the Ontario healthcare system can save millions if not billions of dollars in direct and indirect healthcare costs

  • If all Ontarians had access to behavioural counselling and medications that would help them quit smoking, in 30 years we would see:
    • 62,200 fewer cases of lung cancer
    • 162,900 fewer cases of COPD
    • $36.3 billion in gross savings
  • If all Ontarians with asthma or COPD were diagnosed and treated with a comprehensive evidence-based care model, in 30 years we would see:
    • 70 per cent fewer children going to the ER due to asthma
    • A reduction in COPD hospitalizations and ER visits by about 40 per cent
    • $129 billion in gross savings
  • If pulmonary rehabilitation were available to all people with moderate or severe COPD, in 30 years we would see:
    • 24 per cent fewer COPD-related ER visits
    • 22 per cent fewer hospital admissions
    • Length of hospital stay cut by 50 per cent
    • $76.2 billion in gross savings
  • If all people at risk of COPD had a simple breathing test, called spirometry, in 30 years we would see:
    • 140,600 fewer people living with severe COPD
    • 58,700 fewer people living with very severe COPD
    • $19.3 billion in gross savings

_____________________________

i Poll of 1,000 Ontario adults conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Ontario Lung Association, August 2011.


ii "Your Lungs, Your Life: Insights and Solutions to Lung Health in Ontario" was produced by the Ontario Lung Association, based on data from: Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Ahmad, S., Ler, A., Wonge, L. Life and Economic Burden of Lung Disease in Ontario:  2011 to 2041.  RiskAnalytica. on behalf of the Ontario Lung Association, 2011. The full report and research is available for download at www.on.lung.ca/actionplan.



SOURCE Ontario 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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