INAUGURAL LUNG HEALTH SEMINAR AS PART OF LUNG HEALTH MONTH
Lung Foundation New Zealand officially launched
Lung Foundation New Zealand was officially launched tonight at the Rydges Hotel in Wellington, after hosting a National Lung Health Seminar which featured a key note address by leading Australian Pulmonologist, Dr Lucy Morgan, Dept. of Respiratory Medicine, Concord Hospital, NSW and a range of expert speakers.
Special guest and government representative, Simon O’Connor, MP for Tamaki, Chair of the Health Select Committee delivered the welcome speech at the official launch of the Lung Foundation and the lung health seminar which preceded the launch.
The aim of the lung health seminar was to observe lung health month (November) and;
• Raise awareness of the need for New Zealanders to have healthy lungs. The impact of poor lung health.
• Educate attendees on areas they can help to keep their patients lungs healthy, including; Smoking cessation, vaccination, diagnostics, holistic techniques and therapies.
• Enhance sector wide collaboration
Key note speaker at the lung health seminar, Australian respiratory expert, Dr Lucy Morgan, told attendees that pneumonia is a life-threatening respiratory infection and a leading cause of death throughout the world. More than 1 in 10 New Zealanders are at higher risk of pneumonia due to their age. Tomorrow (12 November) is World Pneumonia Day.
“Pneumonia creates an economic burden for families, communities and governments. At the individual level, it can have a dramatic effect on a person’s life, including missed work-days and long-term health-related complications. As people age, their immune systems become less capable of protecting them from illnesses such as pneumonia but also other respiratory infections.
“Importantly, people who contract the disease are at greater risk for death for up to 10 years
compared with the general population. It’s important that general practitioners and pharmacists, who tend to see older people on a more regular basis, are aware of a patient’s risk and can provide good advice on steps that should be taken for prevention.”
The mission of the Lung Foundation New Zealand is to ensure lung health is a priority for all New Zealanders. The Lung Foundation supports the Smoke Free Coalition initiative to have New Zealand smoke free by 2025.
Philip Hope, Chief Executive of the Lung Foundation said “It is no secret lung disease is a major health problem in New Zealand. The preservation of health is easier than treatment and cure of disease. The Lung Foundation aims to improve collaboration across the sector and deliver a national lung health campaign to promote and advocate for healthy lungs, including early detection of lung disease.”
Key Issues in Lung Cancer
Recently appointed Medical Director of Lung Foundation, Associate Professor, Chris Atkinson says “Lung cancer is a major killer of New Zealanders with 1600 dying each year and almost 2000 new cases each year, but lung cancer lacks the profile of many other cancers.
It is also a major cause of disparity of health outcomes between Maori and non-Maori, as lung cancer rates are four times higher in Maori women and two and a half times higher in Maori men. Smoking rates among Maori women are some of the highest in the Western World.
It is essential that we grapple with smoke cessation as cigarette smoking remains the major risk for the development of lung cancer, but lung cancer also occurs in non-smokers who then also suffer the stigma that “they must have brought the cancer on themselves”.
Lung Foundation NZ will advocate for making innovative medicines for lung cancer available to all New Zealanders by working with Government, PHARMAC and pharmaceutical companies.
“We want lung cancer diagnosed early by investigation of symptoms, rather than when the patient is coughing up blood in the Emergency Room” Chris Atkinson explains.
The Lung Foundation New Zealand has adopted four key messages:
• Lung disease can affect anyone, irrespective of age, ethnicity, health and socioeconomic status.
• Symptoms such as; shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest pain, wheeze and noisy breathing are not normal and should be checked with a GP.
o Lung Foundation NZ will advocate to ensure all New Zealanders and all GP’s recognize these signs should be investigated.
• Lung disease is treatable - the earlier you treat the better.
• Keep your lungs healthy - exercise and don't smoke.
Medical Director & Associate Professor of Oncology
Lung Foundation New Zealand announced the appointment of its Medical Director Associate Professor Chris Atkinson, who is a highly respected oncologist who specialises in the treatment of lung cancer patients and he is invested in all aspects of lung health.
Chris is currently based at the St George’s Cancer Care Centre in Christchurch. He trained in Christchurch, Toronto (Canada) and London (UK) and has held many cancer related non clinical roles including being a former President and Medical Director of the Cancer Society of NZ, former Chair of Cancer Control NZ and former President of NZ Society for Oncology, Psycho-Oncology NZ and the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group.
Chris was the Inaugural Dean of the Faculty Radiation Oncology (FRO), Royal Australian and NZ College of Radiologists, and is currently still on the FRO Council representing New Zealand. He was awarded the Companion NZ Order of Merit (CNZM) in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Cancer Care.
Lung Cancer Patient Ambassador
The Lung Foundation announced the appointment of John Ashton, a lung cancer survivor, to the key role of Lung Cancer Patient Ambassador. John lives on the Otago Peninsula with his wife and two sons, age 14 and 8 and he will be a very relevant voice for lung cancer patients.
John has a PhD and is a senior lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago. John will not let lung cancer define him and the Lung Foundation is grateful he is willing to share his experience, beginning with diagnosis, through treatment to empower other patients and help address inequalities and the stigma that is often unfairly associated with lung cancer.
About Lung Disease
• Lung diseases are one of the world’s biggest health concerns, causing about one sixth of all deaths worldwide.
• Lung diseases cause disability and premature death. They have a huge cost related to primary care, hospital care and treatments, as well as the loss of productivity of those who cannot work and people who die early because of their condition.
• 50,664 people were admitted to hospital in New Zealand (inpatient or day patient) during 2011/12 as the result of respiratory disease (including lung cancer).
• 4,228 people died in New Zealand as the result of a respiratory disease (including lung cancer) in 2010.
• In New Zealand, respiratory diseases - which include lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and lung cancer - accounted for $265 million in hospital costs alone in 2011/12.
• Research undertaken in November 2013 found that only 37% of adults in New Zealand have ever talked to their doctor about the health of their lungs. Even amongst smokers, only four out of ten have talked to their doctors about the health of their lungs.
• Between one and two of every ten people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
• Some 13% of New Zealanders may be at a higher risk of contracting pneumonia, simply because of their age. The disease can target anyone at any time however pneumonia is more common and more serious in older adults. This means that a significant number of New Zealanders could be at a higher risk due to the country’s aging population.
• People with weakened immune systems and those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer and COPD are also at far greater risk of contracting pneumonia - a common cause of hospital admissions in New Zealand adults.