Empowering asthma patients through education

On World Asthma Day 2024 the message is clear: "Asthma Education Empowers." The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), of which the American Thoracic Society is a founding member, stresses the crucial role of education in empowering people with asthma to manage their condition effectively and to know when to seek medical assistance.

FIRS also urges health care professionals to enhance their awareness of the preventable morbidity and mortality from asthma and of the published evidence on effective asthma management, so they are equipped to provide reliable information and optimal treatment for their patients. 

Asthma is one of the most common chronic non-communicable diseases that affects over 260 million people and is responsible for over 450,000 deaths each year worldwide, most of which are preventable.

Key universal issues on which education is required are:

  • under- or inaccurate diagnosis,
  • underuse of anti-inflammatory inhaled corticosteroid inhalers,
  • overuse, and over-reliance on short-acting beta2–agonist (SABA) inhalers,
  • poor recognition of patients requiring specialist assessment and further management.

In low-middle-income countries, lack of availability of inhaled medicines and especially inhaled corticosteroid-containing inhalers is a major contributor to the fact that more than 90 percent of asthma deaths occur in these countries.

FIRS calls on policymakers and the pharmaceutical industry to recognize the ongoing issue of preventable illness caused by this common disease, despite the existence of highly effective controller treatments, and to step up efforts to make sure environmentally friendly inhaled medications are available in all countries, ensuring everyone has access, "leaving no-one behind". Read more www.ginasthma.org/reports.

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