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  • The Global Asthma Network strives for a world where no-one suffers from asthma

  • The Global Asthma Network is the asthma surveillance hub for the world

  • The Global Asthma Network researches ways of reducing the burden of asthma

  • The Global Asthma Network promotes access to appropriate asthma management

  • The Global Asthma Network stimulates and encourages capacity building in LMICs

  • The Global Asthma Network strives to ensure access to quality-assured essential asthma medications

  • The Global Asthma Network raises the profile of asthma as a major NCD

World Asthma Day 2017

2 May 2017

Access to essential medicines key to reducing asthma

Asthma is one of the major noncommunicable diseases, and is an important cause of chronic suffering, disability and preventable deaths in the world. Everyday activities become a huge challenge for the world’s of asthma sufferers, says the Chair of the Global Asthma Network Professor Innes Asher from The University of Auckland.

“Asthma causes disabling symptoms in millions of people who struggle to breathe, making ordinary activities extraordinarily difficult – things like going to school, working at a job, looking after children or ageing parents, running or even walking”, explains Professor Asher. “We know that about 1000 people die from asthma each day – far more than most people realise. The tragedy is that most of these deaths are actually preventable”.

“Asthma essential medicines – a reliever such as salbutamol and a preventer inhaled corticosteroid such as beclometasone – are very effective, and transform people’s lives for the better” says Professor Asher. “But many countries in the world still do not have these medicines readily available. This was confirmed again recently by the Global Asthma Network’s survey of 120 countries, published in our Global Asthma Report 2014.”

“Even where those medicines are available, their cost is sure to be beyond the reach of many of the asthma sufferers,” she adds.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals include “access to safe, effective, quality-assured and affordable essential medicines for all”. The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines this year recommended that countries should have policies about essential medicines, including making them affordable, assuring their quality and safety, and promoting the quality use of medicines.

Professor Asher sees a way forward: “If all people in the world with asthma had access to affordable essential, quality-assured asthma medicines, there would be much less disability, and fewer deaths. This is achievable, and health leaders need to take action.”

Download GAN press release as pdf

Citizen News Service Webinar: How will we avert asthma deaths without definitive diagnostics and universal access to effective treatment?

Webinar in lead up to World Asthma Day 2017 was hosted on Tuesday, 25th April 2017. People with asthma can live normal lives if their asthma is managed properly. But low awareness, health systems challenges and inaccessible asthma care are among the major factors that contribute towards poor management of asthma, adding to avoidable emergency hospitalization at times too.

Governments of over 190 countries globally have committed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, one of which is to reduce premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), asthma being one of them.

Panel of experts:

Dr Kevin Mortimer, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK; and Honorary lecturer at the Malawi College of Medicine [Watch 9:15 - 17:40 of webinar recording]

Prof Surya Kant, Head of Respiratory Medicine Department, King George`s Medical University (KGMU) and National President of Indian Chest Society; Vice President of National College of Chest Physicians India [Watch 1:00:30 - 1:06:30 of webinar recording]

Chakatip Kiatduriyakul, finance expert from northern Thailand who shared her personal experience of living normally with asthma and managing it [Watch 5:03 - 9:06 of webinar recording]

(Moderator) Ashok Ramsarup, award-winning journalist & former Senior Producer, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Durban, South Africa

(Moderator) Shobha Shukla, Managing Editor, CNS

Watch webinar recording, listen or download podcast