Improving access to affordable inhaled medicines – Patient Perspectives on Living with Asthma in low- and middle-income countries in the six WHO regions.

Dr Sainimere Boladuadua, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Asthma is a highly prevalent non-communicable disease affecting around 1 in 10 children and adolescents and 1 in 15 adults globally (1-5). Most people with asthma can be treated effectively with inhaled medicines on the WHO Essential Medicines List but accessing affordable care near their homes is a challenge for many people with asthma living in resource-constrained low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) (5-8).

In this talk we share stories from six men, women and children living with asthma from different LMICs across the six WHO regions. These patient stories from South Africa, India, Türkiye, Sudan, México, and Fiji highlight several of the kinds of difficulties people with asthma in LMICs face trying to access effective, affordable and timely asthma care and the impact of asthma on their lives. Although each story gives only a single patient voice from these countries, they all offer examples of common scenarios faced by people with asthma and their families in resource-constrained LMIC settings. These stories illustrate the impact of severe asthma and the need for specialist hospital input care, challenges around establishing a diagnosis and accessing effective treatment, the impact of asthma-related stigma, and difficulties caused by natural disasters, war, and climate change.

With appropriate effort and investment, we could overcome or at least mitigate many of the issues that make life with asthma in LMICs a struggle for many (1,5,8). Key to achieving this is to overcome the problem of limited availability and affordability of essential WHO medicines for the treatment of asthma.