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University of Sydney scholars win grants to cut chronic lung diseases

24 October 2016
Helping vulnerable communities breathe easy

University of Sydney researchers have received more than $2.6m to investigate the prevention and management of smoking-induced chronic lung diseases.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has funded two University of Sydney projects as part of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases scheme. Only three projects were funded nationally.

Dr Gregory Fox, from Sydney Medical School, received $1.9m to develop a health strategy to combat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma in Vietnam.

“Chronic lung disease is a major health priority for Vietnam, with more than 10 per cent of the population suffering from either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma,” Dr Fox said.

“Smoking is the leading driver of this epidemic – and nearly one in two adult Vietnamese males is a smoker.”

Dr Fox and his team will work with patients, policy-makers and clinicians to develop new low-cost interventions to help Vietnamese quit smoking and boost access to effective treatments for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in urban and rural centres.

It’s hoped these interventions will save lives and cut financial burdens on low-income families who struggle to afford high out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

Professor Jennifer Alison, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences, was awarded a $780,000 grant to develop and trial a program that trains rural and remote healthcare workers to better manage chronic lung disease in Indigenous Australians.

The Breathe Easy, Walk Easy – Lungs for Life program assists healthcare providers deliver evidence-based interventions to boost exercise capacity and quality of life among Indigenous Australians with chronic lung disease.

Professor Alison said Indigenous Australians are five times more likely to be hospitalised and three times more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than non-Indigenous people. Forty-two per cent of Indigenous Australians are daily smokers, more than double the national prevalence of smoking in Australia. 

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