epocUnder the World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day, Luis Carlos Zuñiga Duran, Deputy Health Director in Guanajuato, said in a press conference that this disease is the fourth leading cause of death in Mexico. Therefore, is important to promote information campaigns to reinforce the prevention and early diagnosis of it.

The press conference took place in the auditorium “Miguel E. Bustamante” on the eve of the commemoration of the World COPD Day, which will be commemorated on Tuesday November 18 and will be attended by health sector experts of Mexico, Spain and Uruguay.

He also explained that COPD has no cure and affects people over 45 years of age, being more common in men than in women. The disease develops due to smoking, by indoor cooking with firewood or by having contact with some chemicals.

Zuñiga Duran also said that due to the rising number of chronic and life-threatening diseases, Guanajuato will also host the First International Congress on Care at the End of Life: Palliative Care and Advance Directive, which will take place from 20 to 21 November.

Along with Dr. Efrain Navarro Olivos, Director of Education and Research at the Institute of Public Health of the State of Guanajuato (ISAPEG), the Deputy Health Director said that the congress will discuss issues such as health care, legal aspects and training of family members to care for terminal patients at home, with advice from medical personnel.

The official added that this palliative care does not only focus on older people, and it is not offered exclusively to cancer patients. It is offered to all patients who are terminally ill or those with impaired quality of life due to conditions such as liver disease, HIV-AIDS, among others.

The International Congress’ objective is to demystify the use of some pain-killers; since such treatments are for improving terminal patients’ quality of life. Zuñiga said that unlike euthanasia, palliative care seeks to improve the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing the problems generated by a life threatening illness, through pain prevention and treatment.

Last year 2,733 deaths due to oncological diseases were reported in Guanajuato, and 3,565 due to non-cancer diseases, non-communicable diseases, deficiencies or chronic degenerative diseases; 40 percent of the total number required palliative care.

Advance Directive Act, which came into force in January 2012 in Guanajuato, guarantees medical care to terminally ill patients, respecting their will and human dignity.

Once available treatments are exhausted, palliative care becomes the ethical instrument that provides an opportunity for the patient to decide which type of care wants; whether if the patient is terminally ill or is unable to make decisions.

Through: Secretaria de Salud (Mexico’s Ministry of Health)