Improving Respiratory Health Of Canadians

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Government of Canada is supporting information and awareness initiatives that will help Canadians learn to prevent, detect and manage respiratory diseases, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announced today. This announcement follows up on a commitment made by the Government in the November 2008 Speech From the Throne.

“Respiratory diseases affect millions of Canadians and not only cause distress for those affected, but also place significant burdens on our economy and health-care system,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “By improving what people know about their respiratory health, we can help Canadians lower their risk of developing lung disease and better manage their lung health.”

Federal funding of $10 million over three years will be used to promote lung health through four key activities:

* Improving Canadians’ awareness of the prevention, early detection and self-management of lung diseases through public information products, with emphasis on high-risk populations such as children;

* Developing tool kits to assist patients, families and caregivers in the prevention and management of respiratory disease;

* Establishing a knowledge exchange hub to provide Canadians with ready access to information on respiratory disease; and

* Assessing and communicating risks to lung health associated with indoor air quality among on reserve First Nations and Inuit communities.

The Government of Canada has supported the Canadian Lung Association since 2006 to develop the National Lung Health Framework, investing approximately $2 million in financial and technical support.

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The Framework was launched by the Association in June 2008 and identifies gaps and inconsistencies in information on respiratory health that limit Canadians’ ability to reduce their risks of lung diseases and participate in their care when these diseases do occur.

“Today’s funding means we can launch the action plan on lung health – a plan that will improve access to care, lower wait times and hospitalizations and reduce health care costs,” said Nora Sobolov, President and CEO of The Lung Association and Chair of the National Lung Health Framework Steering Committee. “Whether you are a parent of a child with asthma, an individual living with COPD or someone who has trouble breathing on smog days, the National Lung Health Framework is a prescription for better respiratory health that will help you breathe easier.”

Up to six million Canadians are affected by serious respiratory diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, costing the Canadian economy roughly $12 billion in direct and indirect health-care costs in 2000. Respiratory diseases are the third leading cause of death among Canadians.

Other current federal initiatives concerning lung health include:

* $57 million annually in the Tobacco Control Program Control Program;

* $30 million over four years in the Air Quality Health Index;

* $110 million over four years in the Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions;

* $209 million from 2000 – 2008 in respiratory research;

* $9.2 million annually in tuberculosis initiatives; and,

* $230,000 per year in surveillance activities.

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