Urbanisation blamed for rise in number of asthmatics

DUBAI - The number of asthmatics in the world is expected to increase by 100 million to 400 million asthmatics world wide, according to a senior WHO official, who pointed to modernisation and urbanisation as the primary culprits.

By Hani M Bathish

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Published: Thu 20 May 2004, 9:49 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:25 PM

The new findings were announced during a meeting of the UAE's first parents’ organisation for asthmatic children, the Mothers' Network of Asthmatic Children (MNAC), which held an asthma care meeting recently as part of activities for World Asthma Month.

Dr Osman Yusuf, a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Advisory Committee on Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma, faculty member of the World Allergy Organisation and visiting specialist allergist at Belhoul European Hospital, delivered a lecture during the meeting, which was followed by an interactive session that tackled problems facing parents of asthmatic children and care givers.

The lecture focused on caring for and treating asthmatic children with emphasis on the latest medical techniques. Asthma is a serious global health concern that affects nearly seven per cent of the global population. Various surveys show that childhood asthma is on the rise worldwide.

The prevalence rate of asthma in the UAE is considered to be among the highest in the world with 15 per cent of the population suffering from asthma, mostly children.

Dr Yusuf said that according to a report by the WHO, the total number of people suffering from asthma worldwide would rise to 400 million by 2005, an alarming increase of 100 million from current figures that stand at 300 million.

"There are a lot of factors which contribute to the increasing prevalence of Asthma in the UAE. Modernisation and urbanisation are among the primary reasons for this increase. Modernisation cannot be avoided but there are simple steps that mothers and care givers can know to effectively keep children's asthma in check, this is where awareness plays a significant role," Dr. Yusuf said.

A new set of guidelines on asthma management, based on the Global Initiative for Asthma Management and Prevention, was unveiled at the meeting. A comprehensive guide-booklet containing helpful information was distributed to all the mothers who attended the meeting.

Dr Yusuf demonstrated various options available for the treatment of asthma in children, which range from the traditional inhalation therapies to the newer once daily tablet medication, which has proved to be effective in rapidly controlling symptoms of asthma like coughing, wheezing and mucus secretions. The interactive session shed light on the common misconceptions held by parents about asthma and the problems that confront them. The MNAC is an alliance of parents who have dedicated themselves to allow their children lead rich full lives in spite of their condition.

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