Asthma Australia, the nation’s peak body for asthma, acknowledges the Liberal National Government’s support for peak health groups and advisory bodies with funding announced yesterday.
In the announcement by The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Asthma Australia will receive $667,851 over three years under the Health Peak and Advisory Bodies Programme (HPABF) to continue its work to build a healthier Australia.
Under the $23.5million announcement, 23 health peak bodies have been funded to play an important role in improving linkages, networks and cooperation in their sector with the wider community and the Australian Government, and contributing to the development of inclusive and innovative public policy.
Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said the organisation will use the funding for a range of critical activities to ensure the voice of people with asthma is a key consideration in health policy development.
“One in nine Australians have asthma and around half experience the negative impacts asthma on their daily life.”
“The funding through the HPABF means that we can bring the consumer voice to the table through our policy submissions, informed by investigations and consultations into the key issues people with asthma face every day,” said Ms Goldman.
Over the past three years under its current HPABF, Asthma Australia has been working in the policy space focusing on key issues including access to PBS medicine subsidies and representing the needs of people who are particularly disadvantaged by the disease.
“Asthma is wide reaching, and affects Australians young and old. But there is a group of people with Severe Asthma, for whom daily life can be a real battle. For them, peak bodies like us are crucial in championing their needs and paving the way for increased and better support,” said Ms Goldman.
“This funding ensures their needs are heard by health policy makers.”
Melbournian Julia West has lived with severe asthma for 21 years, being diagnosed with asthma at the age of 10 and chronic severe brittle asthma at the age of 25.
“Having severe asthma can be debilitating, unlike a broken leg you can’t see it so it’s often not recognised as the serious fatal illness it is,” said Ms West.
“Asthma drugs and treatment aren’t a luxury. They are lifesaving and without them, I can’t breathe.
“I’m currently trialing my third biologic medicine. I am optimistic at the results I have seen, and I am hopeful that together with the Governments support, these drugs can get on the PBS making them more affordable for people like me,” she said.
“Asthma Australia is crucial in lobbying for consumers like myself to have a voice and ensuring this hidden disease gets the exposure and funding it so desperately needs,” said Ms West.
Asthma Australia commends Minister Hunt and the Government for his work in subsidising many expensive, life changing and lifesaving medications through the PBS, including the Omalizumab (Xolair) for children with severe asthma aged 6 to 12 years.
“Providing medication via the PBS to people who literally can’t breathe is a key reason why the Australian healthcare system is one of the best in the world,” said CEO Ms Goldman.
Severe asthma is often characterised by persistent asthma symptoms or flare-ups even when taking the highest level of recommended treatment, or needing the highest level of recommended treatment continuously to control asthma.
The Federal Government funding announcement recognises the impact Asthma Australia’s information, education and support services has for people with asthma, as well as the increased attention to asthma in the community through health promotion and advocacy efforts.
For more information people can contact the free 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462) or visit www.asthmaustralia.org.au
Peak bodies are not-for-profit non-government organisations, whose activities are funded from a range of sources, including states and territories, the Australian Government, bequests, donations and fund raising activities.
Severe asthma treatments available on the PBS include:
Omalizumab (Xolair): Age ≥ 12 years and children 6 to <12 years
Mepolizumab (Nucala): Age ≥ 12 years
Benralizumab (Fasenra): Age ≥ 12 years, recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefit Advisory Committee in March 2018
Tiotropium (Spiriva Respimat): an add-on treatment to ICS and LABA in severe asthma: Age 18 years
Biologics are a relatively new class of medications that target specific parts of the immune system and have revolutionised the treatment of many chronic illnesses. Biologics are complex proteins that cannot be readily created from a series of chemical reactions. Instead, they are produced genetically, by culturing proteins from the synthesis machinery that exists in all living cells. These medications represent the forefront of biomedical research; they have evolved owing to biotechnological, molecular biological, genetic and other laboratory techniques, to provide therapy for a variety of medical conditions.
About Asthma Australia
For over 50 years Asthma Australia has been the leader in asthma health care, research and support. Asthma Australia delivers evidence-based preventative health strategies to over 500,000 people every year and provides support, training and resources to the primary health care sector. The organisation funds vital basic science and population health research contributing to national and international understandings of asthma and how best to manage the disease.