The Director’s Corner

The Director’s Corner

Three critical strategies to impact asthma

Asthma is a major noncommunicable respiratory disorder. Globally, it affects more than 300 million people and is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting 14 percent of children worldwide.  Shockingly, asthma, a manageable disease, causes more than 1,300 deaths per day. 

World Asthma Day (Tuesday 2 May 2017) is an opportunity to emphasise that this must – and can - change.  Asthma can be controlled, therefore asthma mortality can be reduced.  Today, The Union calls for three critical strategies to be invested in at global and local level, to make this a reality:

  • Government policies that advance the basic right to breathe clean air. World Health Organization figures demonstrate that around 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of total global mortality figures) are associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution, from household pollutants including ‘dirty’ fuel and poor cooking sources, to tobacco-related pollution and vehicle emissions.  There must be subsidies for introducing clean, modern household fuels, and the political commitment to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles and heavy industry, reducing overall exposure to asthma triggers.

  • Global investment in asthma prevention strategies. In low- and middle-income countries particularly, too many health care systems lack the capacity to communicate and implement approved asthma control guidelines.  We must aid and strengthen community health care providers so that information about effective asthma prevention is available for the many, rather than the few.
  • Reliable access to quality assured and affordable medications (especially inhaled corticosteroids). Governments everywhere must ensure that inhaled preventer therapy features on essential medicine lists and is affordable for patients over the long term. The lack of which can lead to unnecessary attacks of acute or severe asthma that may require hospitalisation. Poorly controlled asthma places an economic burden on patients, their families, and the health system, which is avoidable with widespread education and availability of inhaled medicines.

A commitment to these three strategies is fundamental to the control of asthma. Only then will the shocking statistics of asthma be reduced.  

José Luis Castro
Executive Director
The Union

Access the 2014 Global Asthma Report  here.