05 February 2011

Tobacco Awareness for Pinoys

Tobacco Temptation
One story about the effects of tobacco tells about one whose name is Efren G., a 63-year-old retired bank executive, who used to smoke two packs a day especially when he was under stress. He noted progressive shortness of breath especially when climbing the stairs, but he just attributed this to his lack of exercise. He had on-and-off cough with phlegm particularly in the morning.

He self-medicated, but noted no improvement. His shortness of breath and coughing became progressively severe prompting him to consult their company physician. After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

Efren now requires oxygen supplementation by nasal prong several hours a day because of his severe COPD. Had he known much earlier about the killer disease he had, and how he literally killed himself with his smoking, he would have likely quit smoking much earlier.

2010 was declared as the official Year of the Lung by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), and through the efforts of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), this campaign was also adopted in the Philippines with an executive order which former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed in January last year. Furthermore, this global campaign culminated last Nov. 25 at the Philippine International Convention Center during the 15th Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR) Congress.

The APSR Congress is an annual gathering of different respirology societies all across Asia and this was the first time that it was hosted in the Philippines.

By making this congress the culminating activity for the Year of the Lung, this event became a gathering of pulmonologists and other internists, specialists and health practitioners concerned about the health of the respiratory system all over the world as well.

Dr. Norbert Berend, president of FIRS, said in his introductory remarks during the Year of the Lung Session of the APSR Congress that the PCCP "really led the way here in the Philippines with an extensive campaign."

For 2010, the PCCP prepared various activities with focus on different respiratory diseases each month among which were the celebration of the World COPD Day last November and the First World Spirometry Day last October.

"I think the PCCP really demonstrated leadership for the rest of us in the region," Berend said.

The FIRS is an organization of respirology or thoracic societies all over the world, including the American Thoracic Society, the European Respiratory Society and the APSR, of which the Philippines is a member.

"The Year of the Lung campaign is based on the belief that lack of public awareness of lung health is an important barrier to the progress and the prevention and diagnosis, treatment and development of discoveries in lung diseases. The specific goals of the campaign are to raise awareness about lung health among the public, to initiate action in communities worldwide, and advocate for resources to combat lung disease including resources for research and research training programs worldwide," said Berend.

The FIRS intends to come up with a practical plan to achieve its goals.

"So for the next 12 months we will be developing a respiratory roadmap which will outline what should be done and give some guidelines as to how we should do it and specify some targets that we want to achieve and we can work towards," Berend said.