AT ATS 2017

WASHINGTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – The National Institutes of Health on Monday released its first COPD National Action Plan, a five-point initiative to reduce the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and increase research into prevention and treatment.

On the same day, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and other supporters of the plan described its evolution and why they thought the plan’s implementation was important.

“Today, we are here to announce for the first time a COPD National Action Plan, which has been developed with input from the entire COPD community,” said James Kiley, PhD , director of the division of lung diseases at NHLBI, during a press conference at an international conference of the American Thoracic Society. “It provides goals and objectives everyone in the nation affected by and interested in COPD can work toward to help reduce the burden of this disease. Each goal is designed to address a different aspect of the disease and the part of the community with the capacity to address it.”

The plan’s five goals are:

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third-leading cause of death in this country; it’s just behind heart disease and cancer,” Dr. Kiley noted. “What’s really disappointing and discouraging is it’s the only cause of death in this country where the numbers are not declining.”

COPD “got the attention of Congress a number of years ago,” he added. “They encouraged the National Institutes of Health to work with the community stakeholders and other federal agencies to develop a national action plan to respond to the growing burden of this disease.”

COPD’s stakeholder community, the federal government, and other partners worked together to develop a set of core goals that the National Action Plan would address, Dr. Kiley continued. “It was meant to obtain the broadest amount of input possible so that we could get it right from the start.”

Another of the plan’s advocates, MeiLan Han, MD , medical director of the women’s respiratory health program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, illustrated the need to increase and sustain COPD research related to the disease.

“I see the suffering and disease toll that this takes on my patients, and I can’t convince you enough of the level of frustration that I have as a physician in not being able to provide the level of care that I want to be able to provide,” said Dr. Han, who served as a panelist at the press conference.

“We face some serious barriers to being able to provide adequate care for patients,” she added. Those barriers include lack of access to providers who are knowledgeable about COPD, as well as lack of access to affordable and conveniently located pulmonology rehabilitation and education materials. From a research standpoint, Dr. Han added, medicine still doesn’t know enough about the disease. “We certainly have good treatments, but we need better treatments,” she said.

“What’s clear is that we as society can no longer afford to brush this under the table and ignore this problem,” Dr. Han added.

The National Action Plan and information about how to get involved are available at .


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