BY FRANCIS OKOYE
In a webinar for media in lead up to this year’s world Asthma Day on May 3, 2016, a citizen News Service organized by Health Fellowship Programme. It was revealed that about 2.4 million premature deaths from Asthma can be prevented, if certain actions are put in place, and this premature death prevention would come as annual benefits of large scale mitigation by 2030.
Key areas were this actions or interventions can be put in place include Energy, Transport, Food and Agriculture.For Energy, the use of cleans stoves, less fossil fuels and renewable energy would work, while active transport like walking, cycling, use of public pathways would help reduce the risk of Asthma, as well as adoption of global dietary procedures, together with local and sustainable food systems.
The experts identified Air pollution as the leading factor for Asthma and Non communicable diseases NCDS. Other causes includes current energy use (fossil fuels) which contributes to Asthma, rapid urbanization also linked to rising asthma rates.
In a chart showing the share of premature deaths from air pollution in year 2012. Africa had 10%, Europe 6%, America 3%, South East Asia 35%, Eastern Mediterranean 8%.
Best Practice for care of Asthma Patients
On the best practice for care of Asthma patients, the experts said that the Ideal Device is that which suits your patients best. Asthma, they said ,can be controlled .Asthma education should be part and parcel of management . Inhaler drugs must be used properly-inhaler therapy, best therapy. Physicians must explain proper technique of inhalation and cross check it. Awareness in society of Asthma should be created especially by physicians, Communities and other interest groups that can also influence the society.
The experts and participants made a call on Government to come up with a policy to combat Asthma. They identified poverty as a problem in accessing drug for Asthma, which Government in Local-and middle-income countries should tackle.
The World Asthma Day webinar for media was moderated by Rahul Dwivedi, CNS Health Fellowship Programme coordinator and featured 3 Health experts who spoke about Asthma and answered questions
The experts are Priya kanayson MPH, Advocacy officer at NCD Alliance who spoke on asthma in the context of the sustainable development goals, Prof Surya kant-President Indian chest society, and head respiratory medicine at GGMU, Dr Jeremiah Chakaya- Forum of international Respiratory Societies(FIRS),and member board of Directors,International Union Against Tuberculosis and lung Disease(the Union)
Expert Advice on Asthma
In answering some questions on asthma from the media, the experts reacting to question on high burden of asthma in young children and specific interventions that can be used, suggested that knowledge and skill of healthcare provider should be tailored to such problems and that they should be trained on some of these when in school, they said it goes beyond training,and that enough funds for healthcare and access to treatment should be provided.
According to the experts,any person who has Asthma should be on drugs, If these medicines are not available,it becomes difficult for health care workers to cope with.We have bailout funds for TB,HIV/AIDS, we need bailout funds for asthma.Asthma care needs long term partnership with healthcare and provision of quality healthcare.
In answer to a question whether Highlighting how those living with Asthma are coping, can help to reduce burden of Asthma, other experts revealed that such can help reduce suffering of Asthma but not burden. Advocacy used to ensure that appropriate resources are channeled to reduce burden of Asthma, influencing outcomes is good control of Asthma.
A media participant suggested that one or two people who suffer asthma like their HIV/AIDS counter parts can begin Advocacy, form strong lobby group and people can come together to do this.
It was also revealed by the experts that lot of children are asthmatic at young age and some of them may grow out of it, but medical experts cannot tell the young ones who can grow out of it.
At the end of the webinar which lasted for over one hour , a lot of recommendations were made by the experts, which include that for climate change and NCD ,comprehensive and inclusive approach to solving the problems encountered should be adopted.
Francis Okoye is a CNS Health Fellowship Programme Participant for 2016-2017 and publisher of www.nigeriapoliticsmagazine.com.