Of the four chronic diseases responsible for four in five deaths in Ontario – cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes – lung disease is the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy, this despite the ever-increasing human and economic burden of respiratory illness in this province.
Bill 41, Lung Health Act, which was introduced and passed second reading in the Ontario legislature in November last year, calls for the establishment of a Lung Health Advisory Council and the development of a Lung Health Action Plan that will provide a coordinated approach to how lung disease is prevented and treated in our province.
On March 16, Ontario Lung Association released the summary report of a consultation workshop where 65 stakeholders laid the foundation for a comprehensive made-in-Ontario action plan for better lung health. The workshop brought together patients and patient advocacy groups, medical and other health professionals and their associations, as well as representatives of government, non-governmental organizations, and pharmaceutical and other private sector organizations.
Among the report’s recommended priority actions were better access to smoking cessation tools, lung function testing and pulmonary rehabilitation programs; a formal lung cancer screening program for high-risk individuals; expanded access to, and use of, spirometry testing for early disease diagnosis; and enhanced research and surveillance efforts.