World Asthma Day 2022

The theme of World Asthma Day 2022 on the 3rd of May, was: Closing GAPS in Asthma Care. World Asthma Day (WAD) is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) a World Health Organization Collaborative organization founded in 1993. WAD is held every year on the first Tuesday in May to raise asthma awareness.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lower airways and cannot be cured but it can be managed well to enable patients to have normal lives. Treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms and preventing acute asthma attacks leading to breathlessness and wheezing of the airways. Patients would say their airways closed and they cannot breathe and clinicians would say the patient had an exacerbation.

This difference in terminology used would be one of the GAPS that needs to be addressed. In our country there are huge barriers in language and terminology used and we should ask the patient to explain what happens during an Attack” not to under- or over diagnose asthma. Not to confuse it with other diseases. We have GAPS in education that could lead to difficulty in understanding how to use asthma inhalers and read treatment plans.

Ideally asthmatics should not have any exacerbations but have full control of the disease and it is possible. Unfortunately asthmatic get used to having limitations in breathing and physical activity and they accept it as being their “normal” That is one of the reasons why South Africa still have a high death rate due to asthma, in fact we are, sadly, number five in the world!

Patients would often stop medication when symptoms are controlled while asthma is a chronic condition similar to Diabetes and hypertension. Like Diabetics using insulin, treatment can be titrated up and down according to the season and activity, but controlled treatment should be used regularly.

A new option of intermittent use of combination controller/reliever medication in one inhaler, would be an option for some patients. Patients can ask their Health care providers about this option that would be available for patients in State hospital as well. Using a short-acting bronchodilator alone, the blue inhalers patients rely on so easily, is not advocated at all anylonger!

Asthma is the most common non-communicable disease in children, a reason why we should be more diligent in educating pupils, parents and educators regarding asthma diagnosis, symptoms of poor control and treatment options. WAD gives us a vehicle to attempt just that!

 

GINA identified gaps :

  • In equal access to diagnosis and treatment (medication)
  • Between care for different socioeconomic, ethnic and age groups
  • Between wealthy and poorer communities and countries
  • In communication and care across the primary/secondary/tertiary care interface
  • In communication and education provided for people with asthma, (quality of asthma care plans vs)
  • In asthma knowledge and asthma awareness between health care providers
  • In prioritization between asthma and other long term conditions
  • Between prescribing inhalers and monitoring adherence and ability to use these devices;
  • exist for the general public’s (non-asthmatics) and health care professional’s awareness and understanding that asthma is a chronic (not acute) disease.
  • Between scientific evidence and actual delivery of care for people with asthma.

 

In South Africa, this initiative is driven in by NAEP (National Asthma Education Program).
 A word on this organization:

The National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP) is a non-profit organisation that aims to disseminate impartial information about asthma diagnosis and treatment to health professionals and the South African public. It also runs courses, workshops, and meetings for the public and professionals. NAEP (The National Asthma Education Programme) was first launched in 1989 by Key Opinion Leaders in South Africa and is part of an international organisation/drive which subscribes to guidelines set out by GINA (Global Initiative for Asthma), SATS (South African Thoracic Society) and ALLSA (Allergy Society of South Africa)

Let us all work together in getting all asthma patients well controlled. Enabling them to lead active lives!

 

Dr. Lodder held a talk about Asthma at Bertie Barmard Primary in Stilbaai

Beautiful artwork of the winners in Gr 1, 2 and 3. Learners at Bertie Barnard Primary School in Stilbaai where we celebrated World Asthma Day.

 

Dr. Lodder held a talk about Asthma at Blanco Primary in George

Grade 4 learners from Blanco Primary School in George participated in the art competition. Their artwork was exellent and five prizes were awarded. Here the group excitedly displays their pictures and listens attentively to the talk given by Dr. Lodder on asthma.