The World Health Organisation has studied that access to inhalers is still a problem in many countries, noting that many asthma patients around the world are unable to get the important medical device.
To commemorate 2021 World Asthma Day, the World Health Organization said, in a statement released on Monday, that most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries, where under-diagnosis and under-treatment are a challenge.
With this year’s theme titled “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”, World Asthma Day is observed annually and celebrated on the first Tuesday of May every year to raise awareness about the disease, clear misconceptions related to the complications of asthma and show how it can be controlled with proper treatment.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease. It has a long-lasting effect on an individual, causing difficulty in breathing due to the narrow airways in the body. People with asthma experience recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. The known treatment for asthma is the Asthma inhalers, which are hand-held, portable devices that help deliver medication to the lungs to control the disease.
WHO stated that while asthma cannot be cured, proper management through medications can control the disease and enable patients to enjoy a normal active early.
“People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available. Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2019, only half of the people with asthma had access to a bronchodilator and less than one in five had access to a steroid inhaler in public primary healthcare facilities in low-income countries.
People with asthma and their families need education to understand more about their asthma, their treatment, triggers to avoid, and how to manage their symptoms at home. It is also important to raise community awareness, to reduce the myths and stigma associated with asthma in some settings,” WHO said.
The global health body also stated that reducing tobacco smoke exposure has become crucial not just for the prevention of asthma but also for the management of the health condition.
According to the WHO, reducing tobacco smoke exposure is now important for both primary prevention of asthma and the management of the disease, noting that the Framework Convention on Tobacco is enabling progress in this area.
The global health body also noted that its initiatives which include MPOWER and mTobacco Cessation – which are strategies for fighting the global tobacco epidemic are also aimed at reducing tobacco smoke exposure.
The WHO, however, noted that it is committed to improving the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of asthma, to reduce the global burden of NCDs and make progress towards universal health coverage.
Asthma, the health agency said, is included in the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
WHO said, “WHO is taking action to extend diagnosis of and treatment for asthma in a number of ways. The WHO Package of Essential Non-communicable Disease Interventions was developed to help improve NCD management in primary health care in low-resource settings. PEN includes protocols for the assessment, diagnosis, and management of chronic respiratory diseases (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and modules on healthy lifestyle counselling, including tobacco cessation, and self-care.”
According to the WHO, it is a major non-communicable disease affecting both children and adults but it is the most common chronic disease among children.
Asthma, WHO said, affected an estimated 262 million people in 2019 and caused 461,000 deaths globally.