The COPD is currently the seventh leading cause of mortality in the country, said Dr. Lenora Fernandez, who is a pulmonary specialist and the immediate past-president of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP).
“[It] is [also] projected to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020,” said Fernandez in a statement.
Fernandez said that cigarette smoking remains as the major risk factor for COPD, adding that there were still around 16 million Filipinos who smoke today.
“COPD can become apparent in smokers 10 to 20 years after the start of smoking. With the number of Filipinos smoking still high, the prevalence of COPD in the country will continue to grow in the next 10 to 20 years also,” said Fernandez.
“Studies showed that smokers can develop COPD, and that 90 percent of those with COPD are smokers,” she added.
Fernandez noted that it was also “already proven that even non-smokers develop COPD in the Philippines,” particularly those household members that depend on firewood and charcoal in cooking their food, and those who are exposed to dusty jobs.
“COPD patients suffer breathlessness and chronic cough, severely affecting lifestyle and productivity,” said Fernandez.
A test called spirometry can detect COPD. A patient who undergo the test needs to pay around P600 to P4,000 depending on the hospitals and diagnostic centers, said Fernandez.