Every year, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and the COPD Foundation get together and make COPD Advocacy Day possible at Capitol Hill. This year (2013) COPD Advocacy Day will be on March 12th.
I Can't Attend! What Can I Do to Show My Support?
Don't worry if you can't go – you can still support the cause by participating in the “Lobby Week”, which is between March 1st and the 12th. You are encouraged to email your state's governor, your representative or senator and urge them to support the Congressional COPD Caucus, if they aren't already on board. Go to the Members List to see if your representative or senator is there (http://www.uscopdcoalition.org/index.php?t=p&p_id=4).
You can also sign up for the COPD Foundation's email list, so that you can keep up on future information and events. You can do all of this through the COPD Foundation's advocate page (http://capwiz.com/copdfoundation).
What is COPD Advocacy Day About This Year?
This year, COPD Advocacy Day will focus specifically on easier access to respiratory therapists. Members of congress will also be encouraged to join the Congressional COPD Caucus, which is forming to raise awareness about COPD and promote funding for its research.
They recognize that many people who have COPD do not have proper access to respiratory therapy, which has been known to be the best treatment for improving the condition of the overall health in people with COPD. With respiratory therapy, the patient is assisted by a respiratory therapist in gentle exercise, as well as encouragement to do the things that most healthy people can do.
Why Respiratory Therapy is Important
They work with COPD patients to improve lung function, as well as strengthen the other muscles in the body, so they can avoid the falls and injuries that often occur in people with COPD. A respiratory therapist would also tailor the regimen to the patient, along with a doctor's specifications.
Congressional Funding for COPD Research
The COPD Foundation, as well as the forming Congressional COPD Caucus recognize that many people, who live in rural areas especially, do not have ready access to respiratory therapy and have other difficulties with getting the oxygen therapy equipment they need. You can also act now to ask congress to increase funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for COPD research.
The Centers for Disease Control has ranked COPD as the 3rd leading cause of death, behind heart disease as the leading cause of death, and cancer as the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States. It's estimated that 138,080 people in the US die each year from COPD. The COPD Foundation, along with other advocates, are working to try to lower this number through their efforts and make sure all COPD get the care they and resources they need.