Lung Health Priorities for Saskatchewan

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Lung Health Priorities for Saskatchewan

 

The Lung Association of Saskatchewan is prepared to work with the provincial government to take action on the following lung health priorities:

Increase funding for a long-term provincial tobacco reduction strategy that supports community education, prevention and cessation initiatives;

Better access to specialized medical care and education services for children affected by asthma and other lung diseases;

Better access to specialized respiratory medical care and education services in Regina;

Better access to patient and family education and respiratory care in Saskatchewan;

Legislate and regulate action on indoor and outdoor air quality to reduce the burden on lung health.

Increase funding for a long-term provincial tobacco reduction strategy that supports community education, prevention and cessation initiatives.

Challenge

Action

Saskatchewan presently has the highest smoking rates of any province in Canada. We are currently in the last year of a short-term three-year provincial tobacco control strategy.

Dedicate Ministry of Health staff resources and increased funding levels for the provincial tobacco control strategy.

Less than 0.5% of Saskatchewan tobacco tax revenue is used to reduce the problems caused by tobacco. Other provinces have significant budget allocations for tobacco control and have lower smoking rates.

The 2010 CTUMS report states that 20% of Saskatchewan youth aged 15-19 smoke, which is the highest rate in Canada and an increase from 18% in 2009. The Saskatchewan smoking rate for the 45+ age range is also the highest in Canada.

Dedicate 2% of provincial tobacco taxes to tobacco control and prevention activities beginning in the next budget.

First Nations and Métis peoples are at higher risk for smoking and subsequent lung diseases. There are limited resources to address this issue.

Provide smoking prevention and cessation programs designed to meet the particular needs of at-risk populations.

Cigarette packaging is a form of advertising which promotes continuation of nicotine addiction.

Encourage the federal government to take action on the plain packaging of all tobacco products.

Access to and use of smoking cessation supports such as nicotine replacement therapy and tobacco cessation medications are limited.

Provide funding to initiate tobacco cessation supports for every smoker who accesses health care.

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Better access to specialized medical care and education services for children affected by asthma and other lung diseases.

Challenge

Action

Respiratory disease is the single most common reason for admission of children to hospital, with asthma being the leading cause. This will continue for the new Children’s Hospital.

Provide access to appropriate specialists for children’s lung health by recruiting more pediatric respirologists.

Infants and children in Saskatchewan with lung disease have the lowest rate of access to a pediatric respirologist of any province in Canada. We have one, but we need four.

Complex pediatric cases are regularly referred to out of province specialists imposing a great burden on the families and the Saskatchewan health care system.

Waiting lists are growing. Some children on the waiting list will never be seen by a pediatric respirologist.

 

Better access to patient and family education and respiratory care in Saskatchewan.

Challenge

Action

Current trends in health care reform emphasize an integrated, team approach to chronic disease management. Patient and family education related to managing a chronic illness are critical to improving health care outcomes.

Improve health outcomes and reduce the financial and social burden that lung disease places on our province by allocating funding for Certified Respiratory Educator positions within health regions and by integrating this service with family physician clinics.

Certified Respiratory Educators (CREs) are licensed health care professionals with specialty training in the management of asthma and COPD and in how to facilitate improved patient and family self-management skills. We have over 100 trained in Saskatchewan.

Although the Lung Association has developed training resources for CREs and other health care personnel to work with First Nations and Métis peoples, few health care workers have had the opportunity to access this training.

A Lung Association pilot project in Regina showed that having CREs in family physician clinics leads to improved adherence to Canadian respiratory guidelines and increased access to spirometry.

Integration of and access to these highly valuable health care providers is limited and they are not always able to work to their full scope of practice.

 

Better access to specialized respiratory care and education in Regina.

Challenge

Action

Regina currently has a critical shortage of respirologists which will become more critical with recent and impending retirements.

Support the development of a plan for the provision of adequate respiratory services in Regina.

There is no access to pediatric respirologists and limited access to adult respirologists in Regina. There are approximately 18 adult respirologists in Saskatoon compared to 3 in Regina.

There is an urgent need to decrease waiting lists for diagnosis and management of lung disease in Regina.

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Legislative and regulatory action on radon.

Challenge

Action

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Some areas of Saskatchewan have been shown to have high levels of radon gas production in the soil. Homes constructed in these areas are at risk of having radon leak into them, potentially causing numerous health problems for the residents.

Introduce requirements for all municipalities to conduct radon testing in areas designated for new housing developments.

While radon cannot be stopped from occurring, preventive work - such as radon testing, monitoring and remediation - prior to and post construction - could significantly reduce the exposure of individuals and families to radon gas.

Create incentives for home owners that would support radon testing and remedial action as necessary.

 

Legislative and regulatory action on stubble burning.

Challenge

Action

Burning of crop residue (stubble burning) in Saskatchewan is still far too common even though agricultural experts recommend against burning.

Restrict open field and windrow burning of crop residues by legislative means such as the steps taken in Manitoba.

Many individuals living with lung disease or other illnesses such as heart and circulatory problems are adversely affected by the smoke from burning crop residue.

The education program that Saskatchewan has attempted is not working. In contrast, the success of legislation in Manitoba to control the burning of crop residue is a positive example of how to deal with this problem.

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Page Last Updated: 27/03/2018