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The Winds of Change....

The wheels have set in motion to change much of the image of our disease.....

I was very fortunate to have been invited to participate in an Education Strategy Workshop on COPD for the The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Co Chaired by Homer Broushey, M.D. (Past President of the American Thoracic Society) and John Walsh (President and CEO of Alpha-1 Foundation), this workshop brought together participants from ALL sectors involved -- the list reads like a who's who of important health professionals and specialists in our field, as well as important members of the government's health teams.

For the very first time, the patient's input was also sought. Panel presentations and workshop roundtable discussions included COPDers and Caregivers. There were COPDers there from 4 different support groups.

We must realize, however, that this is not about the individual groups --- We were there as patients - with approximately 20% of the total invited attendees having COPD or as caregivers.

This workshop also was not about advocacy, or legislation -- nor was it about individual groups or professions --- but rather about EVERYONE working together to start the process for education for all ... from those at risk, to those of us with the disease, to the various elements of the medical profession, all will benefit from this NHLBI program.

We all have a role to undertake in education and awareness.

Many spoke to me personally, expressing the importance of the COPDers input - it was very well received.

The NHLBI is committed to this education awareness issue. We can expect to see the term COPD become known for what it truly is, and along with this awareness, a major emphasis for early diagnosis.

One of the most common comments I heard at the conclusion of this workshop with some of the leaders in the field of COPD were comments filled with enthusiasm and the realization that the days of COPD's old identities were limited (unknown, its your fault, What is COPD?, you don't look sick, what tests, etc -- these old images will disappear soon)

This is but the first step in a long process -- but such an important first step.


NOTE:  This article has been retained for its historical value - This was the first step in COPD awareness and laid the groundwork for the COPD awareness campaign that started several years later.

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