Patient support and research top priorities says Lung Foundation Chair

Strengthening patient support across the spectrum of respiratory diseases and increasing research funding will be top priorities for newly appointed Lung Foundation Chair Professor Christine Jenkins when she takes up the position early next year.

“The Lung Foundation has a very substantial record in relation to COPD, interstitial lung disease and lung cancer but it is also interested in other areas of respiratory disease where people often don’t receive a lot of support,” Professor Jenkins told the limbic.

In particular raising the awareness of respiratory diseases and promoting patient access to quality resources were really important priorities, she said.

The Lung Foundation were already working towards this, a good example was its application for an MBS item number for pulmonary rehabilitation.

Under the proposal patients with chronic lung disease can be referred by their GP to an eight-week course of pulmonary rehabilitation. 

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“This is a huge initiative that will be important for raising awareness and improving and increasing respiratory physiotherapy services… It looks promising that it will materialise in the next twelve months,” she said.

Research funding for respiratory disease will also be a priority says Professor Jenkins because it is currently grossly underfunded in relation to the prevalence and impact of the disease in the Australian community.

Disproportionately it receives very much less funding than somewhat more glamorous or publicly applauded causes such as HIV, dementia, and cancer.

Respiratory disease accounts for about 15 percent of morbidity and mortality in our community but it gets less than 10 percent [of research funding], she said.

“The Lung Foundation will have a need to raise awareness in order to attract that funding and then really do something substantial with it,” she said.

Professor Jenkins’ appointment was announced last weekend at the Lung Foundation’s Just One Breath Gala dinner.

The Foundation raised more than $50,000 to provide essential services and resources for people affected by lung disease.

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