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Former Health Minister de Brún supports lung disease campaign

20 February, 2008

Former executive Health Minister Bairbre de Brún today threw her weight behind a campaign to raise awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which kills an estimated 200,000-300,000 people in Europe every year.

Speaking from Strasbourg where a medical team was on hand during an awareness-raising event to test the health of MEPs' lungs, de Brún commented:

"Research on COPD is lacking compared to many other diseases. This campaign's slogan of It's hard to speak up when you're struggling to breathe is very apt.

"Of course, the link between smoking and COPD is well established and it is for this reason that I support the campaign's call for Member States to implement comprehensive smoke-free policies and to develop smoking cessation policies."

"At the same time, treatment for COPD sufferers must be provided on the basis of equal access for all. I would urge Minister McGimpsey and the Assembly to invest further in awareness-raising, prevention education, training and support for sufferers, building on good practice projects to date."

Notes to Editors:

1. Few people have heard of COPD but it is ruining lives. COPD is an umbrella term covering such conditions as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and is estimated to affect anything up to 80,000 people in the North of Ireland. The present death toll is estimated to be 200,000-300,000 each year in the European Union.

2. The awareness-raising event in the European Parliament today is aimed at giving MEPs a greater understanding of what is involved and garnering support for a written declaration by MEPs that calls for long-term research, smoke free policies and action on air pollution at EU level and for member states to raise awareness of the condition, promoting prevention and ensuring equal access to early diagnosis, correct treatments and mobility of COPD patients;

3. Under one good practice project, Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association was last year awarded a grant of £497,579 to support people suffering from respiratory disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and their carers by creating networks delivering training, education, therapy and respite sessions.


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