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It’s never too late to seek treatment


Dr. Tim Trinidad with COPD survivor Romeo Fernandez

To improve their respiratory health, this message stresses the meaningful actions people can take before or after diagnosed of suffering from COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. This is likewise the theme of this year’s observance of World COPD Day on November 14.

Just like COPD survivor Romeo Fernandez, it’s never too late to avail himself of respiratory treatment. Seventy-four-year-old Mang Romy has survived COPD for 14 years now. Dr. Tim Trinidad, chairman of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians Council on COPD and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, presented him as a COPD survivor in what he stressed as an unscripted interview during the COPD media briefing conducted Wednesday at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

In 1998 Mang Romy was diagnosed with emphysema, one of two diseases COPD is previously described (the other is chronic bronchitis). While helping a mechanic, he was rushed to the emergency ward of UST Hospital due to difficulty of breathing. His other symptoms were phlegm production and coughing.

He reminisced that two years ago “nauunahan ako sa pag-inom ng beer ng aking mga kainuman dahil nahihirapan akong huminga” (I couldn’t catch up with my barkada in drinking beer during our drinking sprees because I had difficulty of breathing).”

He said he started smoking cigarettes when he was still in second year high school. His exposure to auto exhaust fumes also contributed to the disease.

Mang Romy used to drive a taxi. His lifestyle changed because of COPD since he had to stop drinking and quit smoking. At that time, the UST pulmonary rehab clinic has just opened under the Center for Respiratory Medicine and he was one of its first patients. Mang Romy admitted that his enrolment in the rehab helped him a lot. The clinic is headed by Trinidad.

“Si Doctor Tim ang nag-alaga sa akin.” (I was under the care of Doctor Tim). Unlike many who stopped rehab after feeling better, Mang Romy had continuous pulmonary rehab. Thanks to a caring doctor, rehab exercises and proper medicinal management, he survived COPD.

Advice to survive

His advice to smokers: “Kailangang magpakonsulta sila para malaman kung meron silang COPD. Maniwala sila sa kanilang doktor.” (They need to consult a pulmonologist to know if they have COPD. Believe in their doctor.)

There were 64 million people reported to have COPD in 2004. The disease is predicted by the World Health Organization to become the third leading cause of death by 2030. Local figures show that 14 out of 100 people have COPD in Metro Manila while 21 out of 100 people have COPD in rural areas.

The event was preceded by the lung function testing (spyrometry) of print and broadcast media practitioners. Spyrometry is a simple test for the routine diagnosis and monitoring of patients with respiratory diseases.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) aimed at raising public awareness on lung health and providing physicians with continuing medical education on the diagnosis and management of COPD was signed between Novartis Healthcare Philippines Inc. and PCCP. Signatories were Novartis country president and managing director Thomas Weigold and PCCP’s Doctors Benita Galvez, president; Celeste Mae Campomanes, VP; Ma. Janeth Samson, chair, council on diagnostics and therapeutics; and Trinidad.

According to Galvez, research reveals low public awareness on lung health and underutilization and/or ineffective use of the lung function test or spirometry, a simple test that can be used for the routine diagnosis and monitoring of patients with respiratory diseases. Among these diseases are asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and COPD. “Our society’s partnership with Novartis aims to address these issues,” she added.

Weigold said, “Novartis is privileged to work with the PCCP in raising public awareness on respiratory health and enhancing local physicians’ knowledge and skills in pulmonary medicine.

Media’s help sought

Both heads of the two institutions took turns in welcoming the media people. Both sought the help of both print and broadcast media in raising public awareness on lung health.

Weigold told how the local firm of Novartis, No. 1 in Fortune’s most admired companies, becomes a partner in nation building. He revealed that next year Novartis will bring in to the market cheap, simple efficient device for improving respiratory lung health.

One of the event’s highlights was the “Break the Habit” ceremony wherein a large replica of a cigarette was broken in two symbolizing the two institutions’ commitment to urge the public to stop smoking. The press briefing capped the event.

It’s about time to take care of your respiratory health. Just like in Mang Romy’s case, it’s never too late to seek treatment.

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Tags: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , copd , diseases , Health , treatment

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