Almost 1,000 people die from asthma each day – far more than most people realize. The tragedy is that most of these deaths are potentially preventable.
Deaths from asthma are the tip of the iceberg of poor asthma control – asthma is a serious chronic disease that causes widespread disability and suffering to people of all ages. The effects on people with asthma and their families are bad enough, and the resultant loss of productivity results in huge costs to society; US$56 billion per year in the US alone. Bringing asthma symptoms under control requires co-operation to find solutions at global, national, local, community, family and individual levels.
The Global Asthma Network is poised to change this by setting bold targets to save lives, reduce suffering and lessen the burden for families which will also result in improved economies. Funded by The Union, the Global Asthma Network published the Global Asthma Report 2014 which sets out specific actions urgently needed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Governments, Health Authorities, and Health Practitioners.
Good long-term management can help a person with asthma to control their disease and feel much better, resulting in higher productivity at work and home. Systematic national or local strategies have been shown to improve the early detection of asthma in individuals and provide effective preventive treatment.
However, quality-assured essential medicines are not available to many people with asthma, yet guaranteed access to these medicines is vital to improving asthma outcomes. Unless people with asthma can get the medicines they require, they cannot control their asthma – the aim of this year’s World Asthma Day.
“All people with asthma have a right to access quality-assured essential asthma medicines” says Professor Innes Asher, Chair of the Global Asthma Network. “In most countries measures can be taken to improve this access”.
The Global Asthma Network, led by an international Steering Group, has recently started a new program: Global Surveillance: Prevalence, Severity and Risk Factors which involves participation from 132 countries.
In 2012 the leader of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, said “Accurate assessment of the global, regional and country health situation and trends is critical for evidence-based decision making in public health…. The real need is to close the data gaps”. This is one of the goals of the Global Asthma Network.