World Asthma Day is commemorated every year on the first Tuesday of May every year to raise awareness about asthma, its causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. This year, under the theme Asthma Care For All, the day was commemorated at Chilenje Level One Hospital in Lusaka. It consisted of a march along the streets of Chilenje to the hospital to raise awareness, followed by community screening for asthma by doctors and medical students.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. Asthma attacks can be triggered by many factors, including pollen, fur, perfumes, air pollution, exercise, and respiratory infections. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma affects an estimated 262 million people worldwide and is responsible for 383,000 deaths each year. It is a common disease in both high-income and low-income countries.
In Zambia, studies show that the prevalence of asthma is estimated to be around 3%. Why then is awareness about this chronic respiratory illness so important? It is because asthma affects people of all ages, but it is most common in children with high rates of misdiagnosis and wrong treatment. This contributes greatly to morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, there is a lot of stigma and lack of knowledge around the use of inhalers, particularly in low-income areas.
The commemorations at Chilenje Level One Hospital aimed to raise awareness about asthma and its management in the community. The march was attended by community members living with asthma, health workers, and medical students, who carried banners and distributed leaflets about asthma. The community screening was conducted by doctors and medical students who measured the lung function of participants and conducted physical examinations to diagnose asthma. The screening also provided an opportunity for people living with asthma to receive education about how to manage their condition, including how to use inhalers and avoid triggers.
In conclusion, World Asthma Day is an important day to raise awareness about asthma and its management. The commemorations at Chilenje Level One Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, provided an opportunity to raise awareness about asthma in the community and to screen for asthma. It is crucial to improve awareness about asthma and its management to reduce the impact of this chronic respiratory disease on individuals, families, and communities.