The Director’s Corner

The Director’s Corner

A message from José Luis Castro on World Asthma Day 2016

Today on World Asthma Day on Tuesday 3 May is a moment to reflect on why lung diseases continue to occupy a place that is considerably lower down the global public health agenda than other health indicators such as obesity or cardiac health.  Nor do they gain the attention or funding of higher profile outbreaks such as Zika or Ebola. 

These are, of course, public health emergencies that must be addressed.  But lung diseases collectively kill more than 10 million people globally each year.  Asthma specifically impacts 334 million people, with 250,000 deaths attributed to the disease annually. And the prevalence of asthma is rising.  It is estimated that the number of people with asthma will grow by more than 100 million by 2025*. 

World Asthma Day is an important time to draw attention to the impact of this chronic lung disease.  It is also a time to underline the importance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which include plans to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one third, through prevention and treatment.  These goals apply as much to asthma as to other NCDs:

Asthma though not curable, can be controlled with proper management.  This includes appropriate medication – and access to that medication - and avoiding asthma triggers. According to the 2014 Global Asthma Report, avoidable asthma deaths are due to a failure to implement prevention strategies.  But this requires information and education, ensuring that those who have asthma know what to do to manage their condition.   

The Union and its partners are working closely with practitioners and stakeholders in respiratory health to ensure global investment in the reduction of morbidity and mortality in asthma.  Practically, this means better education and more resources, implemented effectively across continents.  Asthma affects adults and children, across low to high income countries.  There is no ‘at risk’ singular population group or region, because the disease can affect anyone, anywhere. 

The Union Europe Region conference in Bratislava (22-24 June) will be concentrating on the fight against lung diseases with a particular focus on asthma.  The total cost of asthma in 2011 was estimated at €19.3 billion among Europeans aged 15 to 64 years.  Find out more about the conference here:

Today, The Union underlines its commitment to continue to ensure training, information and expertise is explored and disseminated. Every person with asthma must have access to education and medication.  Only then will the shocking statistics of asthma be reduced.  

José Luis Castro
Executive Director
The Union


*Asthma Statistics - American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology