Aidai Temiraly Kyzy, a 24-year-old nurse, dances with her patients in the Kara Jorgo, Kyrgyzstan’s national dance.

Everyone laughs at Kyzy’s dance moves, but she isn’t having a good time. The session is part of a treatment regimen for people who have severe COPD, a lung illness that can be avoided and cured.

She continues, “Nearly every patient complains of shortness of breath, coughing, and a lack of physical ability.” You’ll notice a difference after the second or third day. They have more power.

As a result of Kyzy’s treatment, patients who had been depressed have turned happy and thankful.

After middle age, COPD symptoms include dyspnea, a chronic cough with phlegm, and exhaustion. Smoking and pollution in the air are to blame. If left untreated, it might result in early death. Early detection makes treatment and management easier.

90 percent of deaths occur in low- and middle-income nations. According to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, COPD deaths are anticipated to increase to 5.4 million by 2060.

According to Prof Talant Sooronbaev, director of the National Centre of Cardiology and Internal Medicine in Bishkek, COPD is a serious problem in Kyrgyzstan. The condition affects up to 200,000 people out of a population of 6.5 million, according to a study.

Patients are confused as to why they cough or have difficulty breathing. According to him, they don’t go to doctors and go undiagnosed.

Undoubtedly, there will be more casualties. Sooronbaev states that the country has over 500,000 smokers and that indoor pollution is rampant during the long winters since people heat with wood, dung, or coal.

Sooronbaev decided to take action. Many countries require COPD patients to purchase oxygen, inhalers, and antibiotics. This can cost a month’s earnings in Kyrgyzstan. In 2016, Sooronbaev and his team began testing pulmonary rehabilitation as part of the EU-funded Fresh Air project.

As a consequence of patient input, the programme has modified. Thanks to the adoption of the health ministry, it is already in use in three hospitals and two GP practises in Kyrgyzstan. Six weeks of twice-weekly two-hour courses. Physical activity includes volleyball, walking, cycling on exercise bikes, and dancing, as well as lectures, dietary information, and patient support groups. After being trained, patients can practise at home.

A pulmonologist in Bishkek, Dr. Azamat Akylbekov, has seen the change. He recalls a 63-year-old woman. She cried because she couldn’t breathe, was always coughing, needed oxygen, and was taking antibiotics and inhalers. She was in a bad mood.”

He was surprised by the result of her cooperation. After that, she grinned and became more active. “I’ll remember that.” Tokhorbek Makeshov, 48, works in Naryn, some 300 kilometres south of Bishkek, at a livestock market. In 2015, he realised his health was worsening, but recognized it to a smoker’s cough. By 2016, he was breathless and gasping for air. His primary care physician recommended him to a hospital in Bishkek, where he was diagnosed with COPD.

Later, he was invited to participate in a hospital-based lung rehabilitation research project. I assumed that only inhalers or injections could assist. I have nothing to lose by trying something new.

“It was massive.” I’m more active, even though I still cough and get COPD flare-ups. There is more cleaning that can be done. Simple activities helped me enhance my respiratory health. My point of view has shifted.”

Sooronbaev hopes to spread pulmonary rehab across the country this year. Sooronbaev and his colleagues will speak at medical conferences to inform healthcare professionals on the program’s progress.

“Giving COPD patients medicine and drugs isn’t true medicine,” he claims. It is impossible to stress the importance of pulmonary rehabilitation. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan are just a few of the countries with whom we hope to extend and share our knowledge.

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