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COPD a burden on healthcare system
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 04 - 2013

From left: Dr. Dalia Mahmoud Amr, Regional Medical Affairs Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim, Middle East & North Africa; Prof. Adel Khatab, Chairman of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at Ain Shams University in Cairo; Dr. Bassam Mahboub, Consultant and Head of Pulmonary Medicine, Rashid Hospital, Dubai; Professor David Halpin, Consultant Physician & Honorary Associate Professor and Dr. Mohamed Zeitouni, Consultant Pulmonologist, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh at the 2nd Regional Respiratory Forum held in Riyadh.
RIYADH – Some 2.4 percent of Saudi Arabia's population suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the recently held 2nd Regional Respiratory Forum hosted by Boehringer Ingelheim noted.
The forum revolved around respiratory diseases focusing on COPD, highlighting the rapid increase in prevalence of COPD and productive cough in the MENA region. Today, 13 million people in the region suffer from COPD. During the forum, it was observed that 38.4 percent COPD patients remain untreated in the Kingdom – constituting 1 percent of the country's entire population. Furthermore, 44 percent of patients in the Kingdom suffer from irreversible lung attacks.
Dr. Mohamed Zeitouni, consultant pulmonologist, King Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, said at the forum that “COPD is one of the leading causes of hospitalization among patients with respiratory disorders. More recently, the prevalence of smoking among Saudi adolescents and youth is increasing. Teen smoking is on its way to becoming an alarming and serious health problem in the near future. Since smoking is the main risk factor for the development and progression of COPD and because of the alarming and growing evidence that the rate of smoking is steadily increasing among Saudis, we expect the COPD prevalence rate in Saudi Arabia to grow consistently.”
Dr. Dalia Mahmoud Amr, Regional Medical Affairs Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim, Middle East & North Africa, said “in the Middle East, the disease is on the rise and remains vastly under-diagnosed and under-treated. The burden of treatment and maintenance of this preventable and manageable disease fast deplete public healthcare systems and funds if the percentage of untreated patients keeps increasing. We intend to raise awareness of the disease in order to ease this public burden and help these patients to improve the quality of their life by using simple, effective medications and making relatively small changes to their lifestyle.”
Professor David Halpin, consultant physician and honorary associate professor, revealed new bronchodilator therapies that were recently launched for the treatment of COPD, highlighting evidence on the short-term efficacy of these drugs. He further highlighted the role of other new therapies for COPD including evidence regarding anti-inflammatory therapies and therapies that modulate mucus secretion, as well as considering novel interventional bronchoscopy techniques to achieve lung volume reduction.
Prof. Dr. Mirna Waked, head of Pulmonary division at St George Hospital University Medical Center in Lebanon, highlighted that diagnosing COPD without spirometry is still a challenge. To date, COPD remains highly undiagnosed and the only way to determine COPD is through spirometry which is selectively available in the region in tertiary care centers only. Given that COPD is expected to become the third leading cause of mortality in 20201 there is a dire need to develop a scale for diagnosis of the progressive disease. This urgent need to determine COPD has led Dr. Waked to development a simple diagnosis score including risk factors and symptoms with good predictive value for positive diagnosis of COPD and high negative predictive value excluding COPD. The properties of the score are superior to any other score developed previously; more importantly, they allow for rapid diagnosis for COPD in primary care centers which can potentially decrease the percentage of untreated patients in the region. – SG

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