World Asthma Day

World Asthma Day

If you suffer with asthma then World Asthma Day is your special day. World Asthma Day has been held on the second Tuesday in May every year since 1998. It is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and works to improve quality of life for people suffering with asthma around the world. GINA brings together healthcare professionals and public health experts in campaigns to discuss asthma guidelines and reduce the global prevalence, morbidity and mortality of asthma.

Just a few facts and figures on asthma:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 300 million people around the world suffer with asthma and its prevalence is increasing.
  • WHO believes there will be another 100 million people suffering with asthma by the year 2025.
  • Globally, around a quarter of a million people die because of asthma every year.
  • Recent research from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study suggests that children with eczema and hay fever are more likely to develop asthma in adult life.
  • According to a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, asthma almost doubles the risk of erectile dysfunction.

The theme of this year’s World Asthma Day is ‘You Can Control Your Asthma’ continuing the more positive patient-centred outlook begun in 2007. I think positive phrases make a difference to these health days. Compare the above to ‘The Burden of Asthma’ (2004) and ‘Unmet Needs of Asthma’ (2005, 2006) - which creates an image of asthma patients as a victim. Better to take control, don’t you agree?

On World Asthma Day, GINA will be launching the next phase of its campaign to reduce hospitalisations for asthma by 50% by 2015. Did you know that according to Asthma UK 75% of all admissions to hospital for asthma are avoidable? One good step is avoiding asthma triggers in your home, school or place of work.

It makes a lot of sense to target an asthma campaign on hospital admissions - because these usually indicate treatment failure, they are disruptive to the person’s family and work life, and they are expensive to the NHS. And it is easy to measure a hospital admission because the figures are recorded and accessible to researchers.

The Asthma Control Challenge that GINA is running are asking for public health authorities, government health departments, non-governmental organisations, and respiratory societies to form groups dedicated to joining in the Challenge. They will collect data on admissions and work out strategies for improving asthma controls. GINA will support their efforts with guidance on data collection, developing evidence-based guidelines on asthma treatments, and collecting and sharing the results.

In the UK, there have been very interesting events going on to mark World Asthma Day. Central Manchester Foundation Trust reflected on the ‘control and management’ theme by focusing upon correct inhaler use. And in Liverpool, there were activities showing how acupuncture might help with controlling asthma.

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