General Elections 2016

General Election 2016 has been called with polling day on Friday 26 February which presents an opportunity to the Asthma Society to advocate on behalf of all its members for improved services, information and care. 

During the Campaign we will be raising matters like the cost of asthma medication, lack of the implementation of the National Clinical Programme for Asthma, the urgent need for a nationwide smoky coal ban. We are asking all 2016 candidates to sign our support pledge based on five commitments listed below people with asthma want to see progressed.

How can you help?

If you have asthma and would like to help our campaign to ensure better care for all people with this chronic disease, please download copies of our election card, share them with your friends and family and raise the matters contained with your local politicians and their supporters when they call to your home in the coming weeks. Please, direct them also to  our website so they could show their support by signing the pledge. If you are on social media please support our campaign on Facebook and Twitter

To find out more about the campaign or to get involved please contact Kevin Kelly, Advocacy Manager, at kevin.kelly@asthma.ie or 01 554 9212.

Five commitments:

It is a shocking fact that one person a week dies from asthma in Ireland. Asthma is a treatable disease. With a combination of the right medication, education and lifestyle changes, people with asthma can live completely healthy lives. 
According to Asthma Society Advocacy Manager Kevin Kelly “Our study 'Living with Asthma' which was published in early 2015 alarmingly discovered that people with asthma feel that they aren’t being listened to by the Government or their health care professionals.  It doesn’t have to be this way as the General election gives everyone with asthma and their families and friends the perfect opportunity to put asthma firmly on the political agenda”
 
We are calling on every political party and candidate contesting General Election 2016 to improve care and guarantee equitable access to guideline based treatment for all.
Actions:
  • Full implementation of the HSE National Programme for Asthma which was agreed in 2011.  THE NCPA in its simplest form is a plan that would see everyone with asthma in Ireland being able to avail of structured, best practice asthma care in their community. 55% of our members want to see the immediate implementation of the HSE NCPA which largely has gone unimplemented despite, being adopted in 2011.  59% of those surveyed feel asthma care would improve in Ireland as a result.
  • Guarantee a free annual asthma review for each person with asthma as recommended in the NCPA.  This is crucial for good asthma management and worryingly a survey of our members has shown up that 59% have not had their asthma reviewed in the last year.  In addition the same survey alarmingly illustrated that 72% of respondents did not have a written asthma action plan.
 
For more information about the asthma care in Ireland check our  'Living with Asthma' and also 'Health and Wellbeing' studies. 
Asthma is a lifelong disease that is managed with medication. A key part of having good asthma control for most people is taking medication day in-day out, even when you’re well. Yet asthma medication is expensive in Ireland. A survey of our members highlighted the scale of the problem:
  • People with asthma are spending up to€144 a month on their asthma medication.
  • 40% of respondents said that they don’t take their medication as prescribed because of cost.
  • A further 25% said they travel outside of Ireland to buy their medication because they can’t afford to buy it here.
  • The majority of those surveyed said they spent more than €250 per year on GP visits. As asthma is a disease that runs in families GP and medication costs can sky rocket.
We are calling on all political parties and candidates contesting General Election 2016 to work to cut the cost of asthma medication as a priority during the term of the next Government.
 
Actions:
  • Subsidise medication for those most in need through the Long Term Illness Scheme or introduce another targeted scheme for people with asthma (In a recent survey of our members 91% of respondents stated that they wished to see a commitment by all political parties to have asthma included in the Long Term Illness Scheme).
  • Reduce the cost of asthma medication.
  • Introduce free GP care for all people with asthma as per the cycle of care set out in the National Clinical Programme something which 53% of our members said should be rolled out as a priority in a recent survey.
 
The Asthma Society of Ireland is presently highlighting the urgent need for the implementation of the promised nationwide smoky coal ban as part of our Clean Air campaign.
 
At the end of September 2015, Minister Alan Kelly T.D announced that he intended to extend the smoky coal ban nationwide by the autumn of 2018.
While we welcome this policy announcement we view this as only a first step and our efforts will continue until the ban is enforced nationwide.  As with each passing day lives are been lost needlessly due to exposure to smoky coal pollution. It is estimated that nearly 2,000 lives are lost on the island of Ireland each year from smoky coal pollution and the right to clean air needs to be recognized.   
 
Burning smoky coal releases harmful particles and pollution into the air. This pollution is damaging for everyone’s health, but poses extra dangers for people with asthma. Smoke from smoky coal is a common trigger for people with asthma, causing worsening symptoms and increasing the risk of having an asthma attack. Smoke is hard to avoid and makes travelling, exercising and simply being outdoors during winter months a challenge for people with asthma.
 

Action:

We are calling on all political parties and candidates in General Election 2016 to commit to introducing a nationwide smoky coal ban without delay if they find themselves in Government after the election.

 
Read more about the Clean Air Campaign.
The Asthma Society of Ireland is presently highlighting the significant failings in the monitoring of air quality in Ireland through our Clean Air campaign
 
Ireland’s air quality is monitored and reported on by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but only half the counties in Ireland actually have monitoring sites.  In total there are thirty one monitoring sites in Ireland but only three are capable of detecting both of the standard parameters for particulate matter (PM 2.5, PM10) and reporting them in real time (within an hour of measurement). Tasmania, the Australian state with two thirds of Ireland’s land mass and a population of only500, 000, has 27 such sites.
 
When compared to the rest of Europe we have a relatively low number of stations. There are 20 monitoring stations in the six counties of Northern Ireland.  Ireland’s real-time air quality data is so weak that is not included on European air quality indices.
 
In order to lower deaths from air pollution we are calling on all political parties in General Election 2016 to commit to the following: 
  • Extend the real-time air monitoring network to every county in Ireland.
  • Set Ireland's air pollution laws to the World Health Organization’s air quality standards.
 
Read more about the Clean Air campaign
 
People with asthma - whether smokers or non-smokers, are under threat from tobacco. Tobacco is one of the most common and dangerous triggers of asthma symptoms. Breathing tobacco smoke increases the risk of developing asthma. For every 1% increase in smoking prevalence, asthma admissions rise by 1%. Babies born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are more likely to develop asthma. Tobacco worsens asthma control and lung function, reduces the effectiveness of medication, and increases the risk of virus and infection. Smoking with asthma greatly increases the chances of developing irreparable, life threatening conditions such as COPD.
 
People with asthma want tobacco gone from Irish society.  Therefore, we are calling on all political parties and candidates to work to achieve this by taking a number of policy steps.
 
Actions:
  • Ensure the full implementation and enforcement of plain tobacco packaging legislation.
  • Increase taxation and link future tax increases to inflation.
  • Establish a tobacco regulator and place a cap on tobacco profits.
  • Use revenue raised from profit cap to fund anti- tobacco measures.
  • Take steps to stop the alarming increase in the use of roll your own Tobacco products
  • Regulate the use, sale and advertising of e-cigarettes in line with the European Tobacco Products Directive which must be transposed into Irish law by the end of May 2016 to ensure their effectiveness as a tobacco cessation tool and stop possible re-normalisation of smoking, particularly amongst young people. 
  • Ban smoking near doorways of all public buildings - a barrier to people with asthma entering buildings safely.
  • Continue resourcing tobacco cessation services to ensure the targets set out in a Tobacco Free Ireland are met.
 

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