“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” – Amit Ray
The first Tuesday of May is recognized as World Asthma Day by the Global Initiative for Asthma, (GINA) to increase awareness about preventive and predictive measures for asthma worldwide, with a coordinated global effort. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma globally affected over 262 million people in 2019, with a high mortality of 455,000. In 1993, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the World Health Organization collaboratively established GINA. The key objectives of GINA include raising awareness about asthma among patients, regulators, providers, health authorities, and communities, generating scientific reports, disseminating knowledge in low-resource communities, and advocating the need for extensive research in asthma care.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition affecting adults and children. The lung’s air passages become narrow due to the tightening and inflammation of the muscles around the airways. This results in symptoms like chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tautness, which can often worsen at night. Other common triggers can include dust, viral infections (cold), smoke, animal fur and feathers, changes in the weather, grass and tree pollen, fumes, and strong perfume. To lessen the global burden of NCDs and advance toward universal health coverage, the WHO is committed to improving the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of asthma.
A Roadmap to Asthma Management
Over the past few years, there have been notable changes in asthma care. Ongoing studies have shed new light on our understanding of the pathophysiology, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and prognosis. To simplify healthcare for asthmatic patients, recommendations issued by the GINA and the WHO have attained broad recognition on a global scale.
Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled with inhaled drugs, allowing sufferers to lead regular, active lives.
Inhalers come in two primary categories:
• Bronchodilators, which widen the airways and ease symptoms
•Steroids, such as beclometasone, which lessen airway inflammation, are effective in treating asthma. This lessens the likelihood of fatal asthma attacks and improves symptoms
Everyday inhaler use may be necessary for those who have asthma. The frequency of their symptoms and the various kinds of available inhalers will determine how they should be treated.
Using an inhaler to control breathing can be challenging, particularly for kids and in emergencies. It is simpler to employ an aerosol if a spacer device is used.
The GINA cycle of asthma care includes:
• Review Response
• Lung function
• Patient Satisfaction
• Diagnosis (Asthma Control Tests)
• Symptom control and risk factor
• Inhaler technique and adherence
• Patient preference
• Adjust Treatment
• Asthma medications
• Non-pharmacological strategies
• Treat modifiable risk factors
Reducing the Burden in Communities with Limited Resources
Asthma is often undiagnosed and undertreated, particularly in lower to middle -income countries, and often face difficulty in accessing inhalers and healthcare facilities. However, in 2021, bronchodilators and other steroid inhalers were both available in public primary healthcare entities in one-third of low- and low-middle income countries.
The WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development both cover asthma care. The WHO is acting in multiple ways to identify prodromes.
The WHO introduced the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions (PEN) to help optimize primary NCD management in limited-resource communities. PEN standard protocols are designed for the diagnosis, assessment, and management of an array of respiratory ailments including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. It also promotes awareness about self-care and healthy lifestyle counseling such as tobacco consumption cessation.
Disease management depends on reducing exposure to both active and passive cigarette smoke. Progress in this area is driven by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and WHO programs such as MPOWER and mTobacco Cessation.
The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) is supporting the WHO’s efforts toward the prevention and predictive management of patients with chronic respiratory diseases. GARD is a voluntary coalition of global organizations from numerous countries dedicated to the development of a society in which everyone has access to clean air and can breathe freely.
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