COPD Patient Charter Implemented in Austria
Our member, the Austrian Lungenunion, showcased the results of years of working with patients, healthcare professionals, and public health authorities to implement the COPD Patient Charter in Austria. This was demonstrated by evaluating point by point, and the public campaign showcasing the promotion of the principles and COPD patient rights in several public transit outlets and highly transited spaces in the capital city of Austria and GAAPP headquarters, Vienna.
Between 400,000 and 800,000 people suffer from it in Austria. There is little knowledge of COPD among the general population. In many cases, the slowly developing symptom,s such as cough or sputum, and the risk factor of smoking are trivialized. The number of cases of illness and death from COPD is steadily increasing. In Austria, one in five people still smokes every day despite the Non-Smoker Protection Act, and smoking makes up to 80-90%1 of the cause of COPD in Austria. This makes it all the more important to educate people about the disease and point out the dangers.
“According to an Austria-wide study from 2021, 4 out of 10 Austrians do not know the term COPD, and among younger people (15-30 year olds) it is even 70%,”
explains Prim. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Arschang Valipour. The lung specialist is head of the Karl Landsteiner Institute for Lung Research and Pneumological Oncology and head of the Department of Internal Medicine and Pneumology at the Floridsdorf Clinic. He calls for more public awareness of this usually irreversible and progressive disease.
“If more importance were attached to the subject of COPD in health policy and even more was done to educate people about the risk of smoking, the number of COPD sufferers could be considerably reduced, thus saving the health system and also society a lot of money.”
The Austrian Lungen union started to work in 2021 by surveying their patient members and then discussing the results with a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals.
The next step will be discussing the three principles with the most significant gap for improvement with policy-makers and public health agents to implement change and evaluate if more financial support for public health facilities is needed.
The work of evaluating the GAAPP Patient Charter, principle by principle, comparing it with local reality, and proposing new strategies to improve or implement the patient rights stated in each of the six principles it´s a potent exercise to create a long-lasting impact and spark the conversation of the public healthcare approach to COPD management and prevention nationally. We encourage our members to do this at the national level and contact us to support this effort.
With the COPD streetcar – which made its rounds on the Vienna Public Transport network until World COPD Day on November 16, 2022 – the Austrian Lung Union, together with the Home Care Provider Platform and partners AstraZeneca and Universimed, raised awareness of the disease. The faces shown on the streetcar represented the diversity of COPD sufferers and their demands.
“In order to reduce the disease, it is important to create awareness of the disease for the first time – but this is still lacking in the Austrian population,”
explains Gundula Koblmiller, MSc, spokesperson for the Austrian Lung Union.
“The principles of the COPD Patient:in Charter, which is depicted on the streetcar, were created by international lung experts and capture the most important principles for the care of COPD patients. Among other things, the Patient’s Charter calls for timely diagnosis, the right to the best treatment, and a life free of stigma.”
A set of 5 videos with health care professionals and experts was also released to further educate the patient on COPD needs and the Patient Charter. It can be accesed in German in the Lungenunion Campaign Page.
The Patient Charter itself was translated into German and adapted to be distributed to the patients virtually during the campaign. You can download it here.
Adapted from the original press release (in German). Images sourced from Home Care Provider Austria.