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Professor John Lockhart of University of the West of Scotland (UWS) delivered a presentation at the EU Parliament on 21 November 2017 regarding a collaborative international project, which is focusing on the causes, treatment and potential prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is an incurable lung disease that is a leading cause of death worldwide, and is particularly prevalent in both South West Scotland and Ireland. In Ayrshire & Arran and Dumfries & Galloway, COPD-related hospital admission is amongst the highest in the UK. It significantly impairs quality of life and has a high cost to health services and the wider economy.

To raise awareness across Europe of this disease, which is sometimes referred to as an ‘invisible’ disease, Professor Lockhart delivered this presentation at the EU Parliament in which he highlighted the work of the ‘BREATH’ (Border and Regions Airways Training Hub) project.

BREATH is a strong cross-border partnership between UWS and the Dundalk Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. This €7.7 million EU INTERREG VA funded project has established a world-class cluster of researchers who will help address the causes, treatment and potential prevention of COPD. In 2011 the annual economic burden of COPD across the EU was estimated at approximately €141.4 billion.

 

This exciting new collaborative programme will provide major insights into lung disease in South West Scotland, where COPD is particularly prevalent.
Professor John Lockhart, Director of the UWS Institute of Biomedical and Environmental Health Research (IBEHR)

Professor John Lockhart, Director of the UWS Institute of Biomedical and Environmental Health Research (IBEHR), said: “COPD is the third biggest killer in Scotland with numbers continuing to rise. This exciting new collaborative programme will provide major insights into lung disease in South West Scotland, where COPD is particularly prevalent. This will help identify better treatments and possible preventions, and also enhance public awareness.”

Dr Gary Litherland of IBEHR, added: “The huge burden of COPD must be addressed by research effort on an ambitious scale, and EU funding support is essential to realise this. Increased awareness of COPD in badly affected regions such as South West Scotland is also vital. BREATH was highlighted during a recent debate on COPD brought to the Scottish Parliament by MSP Emma Harper, and such national recognition will help us to engage intended beneficiaries in our mission to combat this ‘unknown killer’ disease.”

Recognising the importance of the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), responsible for managing the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, said: “This EU-funded project will establish a world-class cluster of researchers who, by working in partnership, will make a positive difference to the fight against a debilitating health issue which affects many people living across the UK and Ireland. Working on a cross-border basis the project partners will be able to share information and produce data that can help improve the quality of life for people living on all sides of the borders.”

High Levels of Invisible lung disease in south west Scotland
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