Breathe in the knowledge: Hungary seeks to integrate services for patients with COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an under-diagnosed, life-threatening lung ailment that interferes with normal breathing. On the occasion of the COPD World Day events, under the slogan Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease “Breathe in the knowledge”, Hungary’s National Koranyi Institute of TB and Pulmonology called for patients, practitioners, health managers and policy-makers to raise awareness, improve population health literacy and adopt a person-centred approach for integrated COPD services.

Hungary’s national register reports that at least 2% of the country’s adult population suffers from COPD. However, based on the high prevalence of smoking and the fact that many people suffering from latent COPD remain unregistered, national experts estimate that actual numbers are higher. Progressive anti-smoking legislation has curbed risk factors, but high rates of COPD hospitalizations suggest opportunities for improving services delivery performance.

In the days prior to the event, a technical team of the WHO Regional Office for Europe worked with members of a national working group to redesign COPD patient pathways. These pathways aimed to ensure smooth transitions of multimorbid patients through a comprehensive continuum of services including prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

In order to strengthen the role of primary care physicians and ensure the provision of services closer to people, WHO Regional Office for Europe will facilitate the exchange of experience with other countries and work closely with Hungary’s Ministry of Human Capacities to apply these new concepts to local demonstration practices.