Updated on 13 June 2013
In the UK, for example, the Department of Health has made the identification, diagnosis and care of people with COPD as a priority for the National Health Service. No such initiative exists across the Asian continent, yet COPD is clearly a major health concern in the developing countries with mortality rates higher than in the US and Europe. The WHO estimates that the mortality rate is at least 40 per 100,000 population for South East Asia and 79.80 per 100,000 population in the Western Pacific Region, which includes China.
The cost of health care resources and consequences of disability from COPD in the US are estimated to be $1522 per patient, per year and in the UK, medical costs were almost $2000 per year as long ago as 1998. No such data are available for the developing countries in Asia, yet it is well recognized that the burden of COPD in Asia is far greater than in the developed Western countries. The burden that Asia is facing includes total number of deaths, years of lives lost and time spent living with disability.
The way out
As in the Canadian ‘Call to Action,' Asia also needs a multifaceted approach in improving awareness of prevalence and disease burden18,19. As Dr S K Jindal, head of the department of Pulmonary Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, India, has indicated in India, tackling the unrecognized epidemic of COPD in the region requires huge economic, administrative and social inputs. We need to implement public awareness and educational initiatives about COPD. We need to expand training of physicians for better awareness of guidelines and lung function testing. Last, but not least, we must encourage funding of smoking cessation programs.