World Asthma Day, May 5 2022
World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO). It is held on the first Tuesday of May every year. This day addresses asthma as a health concern, raises awareness about it worldwide and promotes educational events. The theme for World Asthma Day 2022 is Closing Gaps in Asthma Care. The first World Asthma Day was held in the year 1998 since then participation from various countries have increased.
Asthma affects the lungs. It is typically characterized by repeated breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness. It can be tackled by taking medicines and carefully avoiding environments that trigger asthma. Individuals with asthma also present varying allergies in eyes, nose, skin and certain types of food allergies. Other health conditions associated with asthma are gastric problems, obesity, inadequate sleep and other mental health conditions. Despite huge leaps in the healthcare sector, asthma poses significant health and economic burden globally.
Picture in India
As per the Global Asthma Report 2018, about 6% children and 2% of adults in India have asthma. There is a wide gap in healthcare facilities due to the socioeconomic barriers present in the society. Medications employed for treating asthma is less accessible as it usually comes as inhalers. Inhalers are more expensive compared to oral formulations and is unaffordable by low income families. Similarly, growing levels of stress coupled with changing lifestyle among the richer sections of the society increases the prevalence of asthma. In contrast to the Western population where low income and poor economic status are risk factors for the development of asthma in the Indian subcontinent it is prevalent among the affluent sections. Under reporting and under diagnosis of asthma among the low socio economic group attributes to low prevalence in these sections.
People living in the urban areas are prone to develop asthma as they get exposed to the harmful biomass fuel smoke. In the rural Indian population exposure to the harmful smokes form the solid fuel and indoor air pollution generated from them are risk factors for development of asthma. Ongoing government policies like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims at providing clean cooking fuel thus safeguarding women and children from developing respiratory diseases and asthma.
In India, asthma is also considered a stigma. Reluctance to visit hospital and get the right treatment is avoided by most individuals. Individuals also tend to take when symptoms reappear, or stop taking when symptoms resolve thus aggravating the disease condition. Such gaps can be prevented to a larger extent by promoting patient awareness and education. Other factors that pose risk are unclean drinking water, drinking water contaminated with heavy metals and residential areas near dumping areas. The Government of India has also announced in February 2018, to cover healthcare costs of 100 million low income families through free healthcare insurance.
On World Asthma day it becomes our duty to engage in promoting asthma as a public health concern and working together achieve complete, equal access of healthcare facilities. Rising pattern in the prevalence rates of asthma in India is going to increase in the coming years, especially in the context exponential population growth. Proper education, profile raising, fund raising and effective awareness schemes can help close the gaps in asthma care.
- World Asthma Day 2022. Global Initiative for Asthma – GINA. 2022.https://ginasthma.org/world-asthma-day-2022/
- World Asthma Day – asthma awareness toolkit. Cdc.gov. 2022.https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/world_asthma_day.htm
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- National Health Portal of India India. Asthma. https://www.nhp.gov.in/disease/respiratory/lungs/asthma.
- The Global Asthma Report. http://globalasthmareport.org/management/india.php
- Rashmi R, Kumar P, Srivastava S, Muhammad T. Understanding socio-economic inequalities in the prevalence of asthma in India: an evidence from national sample survey 2017-18. BMC Pulm Med. 2021 Nov 15;21(1):372. doi: 10.1186/s12890-021-01742-w. PMID: 34781912; PMCID: PMC8591869.
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