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COPD Assist What?

COPD Assist What?

Today, the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is launching its new initiative COPD Assist, a brand new programme of Advocacy, Assistance, and Associate membership for start-up, fledgling, and established COPD Support Groups.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung condition that literally ‘takes your breath away’, is one of the most common causes of death and disability in New Zealand, and yet few people know about it.

Aptly timed to coincide with World COPD Day – Wednesday, 15 November 2006 – this progressive new campaign aims to provide greater support for the 200,000 people who have COPD including 40-50,000 who aren’t even aware they have it.

As part of COPD Assist, and to aid the growing number of New Zealanders that have this serious lung condition, the Foundation is urging District Health Boards around the country to improve pulmonary rehabilitation facilities for patients now.

Currently less than 2% of newly diagnosed patients have access to a COPD rehabilitation programme. Pulmonary rehabilitation, a programme of education, breathing exercises, respiratory muscle training, and psychosocial support, has been shown to reduce symptoms, increase functional ability, and improve the quality of life in individuals with chronic respiratory disease.

The Foundation is also calling for individuals and organisations around the country that belong to COPD Support Groups or who wish to start one to register for Associate Membership. For those that do the Foundation will provide seed funding, assistance as well as newly developed, comprehensive educational resources.

Jane Patterson, Foundation Executive Director says “unfortunately we all probably know someone – a parent, sibling or family friend - who has COPD. Generally this condition, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis occurs as a result of smoking but for some - about 15% - it is the result of other factors such as chronic asthma or work place related toxins.

“The Foundation encourages people in their local communities to help make a difference for people with this debilitating disease.”

In addition, the Foundation, thanks to a NZ Community Trust grant, is making 12 portable oxygen systems available for those for whom daily oxygen is required. Oxygen is currently supplied by local DHBs, but only for use in the home.

“Being restricted to the home greatly diminishes their quality of life. A portable oxygen system encourages out door experiences and allows for greater health and fitness,’ says Ms Patterson.

The Foundation urges patients, carers and people who work with COPD patients to email and share their experiences or join our networks. The Foundation wishes to continue to support this large number of New Zealanders to the best of our ability. For more information on respiratory disease, please see


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