Today, the Asthma Society of Ireland launched its ‘who will speak up for asthma’ election campaign. The primary aim of the campaign is to draw attention to the crippling bills that people with asthma and their families are facing on a monthly basis as a result of their condition.
The Society is calling on all 465+ candidates who are contesting General Election 2016 to show their support for asthma by signing the candidate pledge which states that, if elected, they will work towards implementing five key policy priorities.
- Have the National Clinical Programme for Asthma implemented in full without delay!
- Have asthma recognised under the Long Term Illness Scheme
- Implement a nationwide ban on smoky coal
- Roll out real-time air monitoring in every county in Ireland
- Strive to introduce measures to reduce the use of all Tobacco Products in Ireland
Commenting on the campaign Kevin Kelly, Advocacy Manager with the Asthma Society said “Asthma is the largest chronic disease in Ireland, yet compared to other health conditions and broader policy issues it does not receive the attention it warrants and deserves in political discourse. As a result of this neglect there are huge challenges and gaps facing people with asthma in Ireland. Without doubt the single biggest issue is the cost associated with managing asthma. Many of our members are paying up to €144 a month on their asthma medication before you factor in an additional minimum cost of €150 per year on GP visits. This brings the combined total to in excess of €1,800 per annum.”
The cost of asthma estimated above is based on an Asthma Society of Ireland Survey from June 2015 and only deals with Medication and GP Visit Costs. There are many costs not factored in, such as time taken off work to attend GP or hospital appointments, time taken off work due to the illness, transport costs for these visits and prescription charges. Based on the directly attributable costs alone, the cost of asthma is at least 11 times the cost of Irish Water.
“The comparison of the cost between of the cost per household for Irish water and the cost of asthma for a person or a household is meant to serve to draw attention to the serious financial pressure that a diagnosis of asthma places on an individual or a family. There has been a huge public outcry about the financial burden that Irish Water has placed on households. We now want to see a similar level of support to have the costs associated with asthma reduced over the lifetime of the next Government. Our five key policy priorities, if introduced, would go a long way towards solving many of the problems being faced by our members due to their condition.” concluded Kelly.
Rebecca Fitzsimons, Asthma Society patient ambassador, says “my diagnosis of asthma has had a huge knock on effect on my personal finances. In any given month I am spending a minimum of €70 rising to almost €150 in some months on asthma medication alone not to mention the fees I encounter each time I have to visit my GP. By its very definition asthma is not something that can be cured and it will be with me until my dying day. Yet, the Government and the HSE tell me that it is not eligible for the Long Term Illness scheme which quite frankly defies logic! People like me who have asthma are highly frustrated at the lack of attention and urgency being given to asthma. I get told repeatedly that the National Clinical Programme for Asthma would solve many of the problems I am experiencing. However, this is becoming tiring given that this is a HSE plan which they signed off on in 2011 but implementation has been slow at best.”
More information on all aspects of the General Election Campaign 2016 is available here.