The Lung Foundation of Australia has welcomed government funding of $4 million for its National Strategic Action Plan for Lung Conditions, describing it as “a step in the right direction”.
The Plan, launched in Canberra on by Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, spells out six priority areas for lung conditions such as COPD, silicosis and lung cancer and includes recommended action plans and outcomes targets.
The Strategy’s Action Plan highlights areas of lung health where immediate intervention is desperately needed, such as:
- Education programs and national registers for silicosis and coal miners’ pneumoconiosis.
- Implementing a national lung cancer screening program.
- Improving access to pulmonary rehabililation in the community.
- Increasing funding for research into lung conditions, which currently accounts for only 5.5% of Federal government research spending.
- National awareness campaign to tackle the stigma, discrimination and social isolation of people with lung conditions.
Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke, thanked the minister for the funding but said it was only a fraction of the amount needed to address issues such as prevention, gaps in care, and equitable treatment access for people with lung conditions.
“Today’s announcement is a first step in the right direction – funding that will benefit millions of Australians.
“And while we appreciate the investment and the impact it will have, we must continue to champion the need for increased support for lung conditions to remind politicians, and all Australians, that lung conditions are devastating, and they need our utmost care, diligence, and focus in the weeks, months and years to come,” he said.
Other recommended actions in the strategic plan include:
- Develop a national lung health training and education framework for health professionals.
- Five year sustainability funding for existing respiratory registries (bronchiectasis, severe asthma, and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) to monitor outcomes.
- Establish 10 x five year national lung research fellowships, with a focus on lung diseases with poorer outcomes and unmet need.
- Fund the development of a respiratory workforce plan to investigate areas of need, including adult and paediatric specialists, respiratory nurses, Indigenous health workers and patient navigators.
- Set up a network of Specialist Lung Cancer Nurses similar in concept to the McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurses.
- Develop a three-year pilot of telephone coaching to support patient/carer self-management for lung disease including COPD, occupational lung disease, ILD and bronchiectasis.
The Strategic PlanIt comes a year after the National Strategic Plan for Asthma which was launched by the National Asthma Council in January 2018. It was developed by the Lung Foundation Australia with an advisory group that included respiratory physicians Professor Christine Jenkins, Professor Guy Marks, Professor Adam Jaffe, Professor Sarath Ranganathan and Professor Graham Maguire; GP Dr Kerry Hancock; Professor Anne Holland Physiotherapist and Professor, Alfred Health Clinical School, LaTrobe University, Victoria; Deb Kay Consumer engagement faculty member of South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), South Australia; Sara McLaughlin Barrett, Thoracic Liaison Nurse Consultant, Monash Medical Centre, Victoria; Tanya Buchanan CEO, The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand; Ms Louise Papps Respiratory Nurse Consultant, Black Swan Health, WA; Dr Kerry Hall Research Fellow and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Menzies Health Institute, Queensland.