Funding shortage leaves Australia’s lung health research in crisis
Australia’s peak lung health organisations have issued an urgent call to overcome a funding crisis that is crippling lung health research in the country.
Lung Foundation Australia and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) warn that without additional financing efforts to address potentially life-threatening conditions such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer will stall.
“Respiratory disease is a leading cause of premature death in Australia and a key contributor to hospital expenditure,” TSANZ President Professor Peter Gibson said.
“Investing in research will reduce the burden of disease and improve the health of millions of Australians, but it won’t happen without funding, and right now, this is negligently low,” he said.
“Lung disease has to attract the same level of research funding enjoyed by other disease areas such as breast, prostate, and heart disease,” Lung Foundation Australia Chair Professor Christine Jenkins said.
To address the crisis the organisations are launching a new research program that is appealing to the general public for funds. “Lungs for Life” is being launched from Perth on Saturday where lung health experts are convening for TSANZ’s Annual Scientific Meeting running from April 2-6.
“We appeal to everyone out there to consider supporting our new Lungs for Life research program,” Prof Jenkins said.
“Together we are calling on the general community, as well as the Australian government, to turn this research crisis around,” she said. “A donation to Lungs for Life is an investment in the health of our community.
Respiratory disease affects people of all ages. Infants are most affected by infections such as pneumonia and influenza, whilst asthma has a major impact on children and young adults. In older Australians, lung cancer and COPD are leading causes of death.
In 2011-12, an estimated 6.3 million Australians suffered from a chronic respiratory condition. In that same year, 276, 505 Australians were hospitalised due to lung disease – a staggering 757 hospitalisations per day, representing three per cent of all hospitalisations.
“Research is one of the most effective ways to improve the prevention, detection, treatment and management of lung disease. But research doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” concluded Gibson and Jenkins.
To find out more about Lungs for Life or make a donation please visit www.thoracic.org.au
To arrange an interview contact Petrana Lorenz on 0405 158 636
BACKGROUND: THE BURDEN OF RESPIRATORY DISEASES IN AUSTRALIA
- At least 1 in 10 Australians have lung disease.
- 3 million Australians have asthma.
- An estimated 530,000 Australians have COPD.
- 14% of all deaths in Australia are caused by lung disease, including pneumonia, influenza, asthma, COPD and lung cancer.
- Although respiratory illnesses affect 29 per cent of Australians and costs the health system an estimated $4.5 billion per year, research in this area receives little funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – Australia’s lead health research funding body.
- Respiratory conditions are amongst the most commonly managed problems in general practice (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the third leading cause of death in Australia and the third greatest burden of disease for Australians. More than 200,000 days are lost to COPD-caused disability each year (Australia’s Health 2014).
- The current direct health costs of COPD is $930M, with up to $8.8B in total cumulative health care costs, and this is forecast to worsen with the aging population (Access Economics. Economic impact of COPD and cost effective solutions. 2008)
- The World Health Organisation has projected total deaths from COPD to increase by more than 30% in the next 10 years unless urgent action is taken.
The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) is the only health peak body representing a range of professions (medical specialists, scientists, researchers, academics, nurses, physiotherapists, students and others) across various disciplines within the respiratory/sleep medicine field in Australia and New Zealand. The TSANZ is a Health Promotion Charity.
TSANZ is committed to serving the professional needs of its members by improving knowledge and understanding of lung disease, with the ultimate goals being to prevent respiratory illness through research and health promotion and to improve health care for people with respiratory illness.
ABOUT LUNG FOUNDATION AUSTRALIA
Lung Foundation Australia is the only national charity supporting all lung diseases in Australia, providing clinical and patient representation nationwide. The Lung Foundation has a proud history of community education and runs a toll-free patient information and support centre. Lung Foundation Australia produces a wide range of clinical resources to support evidence-based diagnosis and the management of lung disease as well as offering a national network of patient support groups for people with lung disease and their carers.