How to prevent premature deaths from asthma?

Francis Okoye, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
(First published in Nigeria Politics Magazine)
In a webinar organised for media by Citizen News Service (CNS), in lead up to this year’s world Asthma Day on May 3, 2016, it was revealed that about 2.4 million premature deaths from Asthma can be prevented, if certain doable actions are put in place. This premature death prevention would also result in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

The experts who presented at the webinar were: Priya Kanayson, Advocacy officer at NCD Alliance; Prof Surya Kant, President Indian Chest Society, and Head of Respiratory Medicine Department at KGMU; and Dr Jeremiah Chakaya of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies(FIRS), and Member, Board of Directors of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease(the Union)

Experts’ advice on asthma
Experts identified air pollution as the leading risk factor for asthma and  other non communicable diseases (NCDS). Other causes include use of fossil fuels and unmindful urbanization. Key areas where this actions or interventions can be put in place include Energy, Transport, Food and Agriculture. The use of clean stoves, less fossil fuels and renewable energy; use of shared public transport, walking/cycling; developing local and sustainable food systems; would help reduce the risk of asthma, as well as improve overall health.

The experts were univocal that patient education should be part and parcel of asthma management. While inhaler drugs are the best to keep asthma under control, physicians must explain proper technique of inhalation to the patients. Awareness in society of asthma should be created especially by physicians, Communities and other interest groups that can also influence the society. During the ‘question-answer session’ following the presentations, it was highlighted that interventions to manage asthma should include updating skills and knowledge of healthcare providers and making quality treatment accessible to all those in need of it. Bailout funds should also be available for asthma, similar to what we have for TB and HIV/AIDS, to ensure that there is no shortage of affordable quality medicines.
(First published in Nigeria Politics Magazine)

Francis Okoye, Citizen News Service - CNS
May 5, 2016