Who are we?
We are a group of researchers from the University of Plymouth, UK, and Makerere University, in Uganda.
What is the problem we addressing?
Chronic lung disease is a common and growing problem in Africa affecting around 1 in 8 adults. The main forms are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and post-TB lung disease.
COPD is now the third leading cause of death in the world, and is rapidly increasing in Africa leaving many lives blighted by breathlessness and disability.
Patients with chronic lung disease tend to get breathless and so they avoid exercise, leading to physical deconditioning, fatigue and depression. In Africa, these problems are compounded by the lack of social services / benefits, malnutrition and stigma. People with chronic cough breathlessness are often alienated from society and are unable to work; without money, there is no food or medicines and they can deteriorate fast. Imagine having severe lung disease if there was no help available.
How is chronic lung disease treated?
In the west, inhalers are the mainstay of treatment, but in Africa these are difficult to find and too expensive for most.
Pulmonary rehab is an evidence based intervention which involves no drugs. Groups of patients undergo rehabilitation in a 6 week twice weekly programme of exercise and education. Rehab is very effective in reducing breathlessness, improving social engagement, reducing dependence.
Our research, funded by MRC, Wellcome Trust and UK Government has shown that rehab worked extremely effectively in Uganda to improve symptoms, social isolation and return to productivity. In many patients, rehab is life transforming. Sadly, although many patients want to do rehab, since the research has stopped there is nowhere for the rehab to take place.
Why are we asking you to contribute?
We plan to build a bespoke centre for pulmonary rehab in Mulago Hospital in Kampala. The centre will act as a permanent National Centre for performing pulmonary rehabilitation and for training staff from across Africa to conduct rehab to the highest standards. Please help us to build a centre to treat a neglected group of patients who are suffering from a devastating disease without treatment.