World Asthma Day: Cases on rise, treatment facilities on decline

Published: May 7, 2013

90% of general practitioners have inadequate knowledge of asthma medication. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

 For the past few years there has been a 20-30% increase in the asthmatic patients in Islamabad and the major reason behind this is the pollen allergy.

Dr Rizwan Qazi, a senior physician at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said that during the pollen allergy season the outpatient department and emergency ward of the hospital are flooded with patients suffering with asthma caused due to pollen allergy. He was speaking to The Express Tribune on the eve of World Asthma Day on Monday.

He said in Islamabad, paper mulberry is largely cited as the major cause behind pollen allergy however it is not true. There are various other plants and trees that also contributes to this illness.

“An increase in the asthma can only be controlled in Islamabad if we can control pollen allergy,” he said.

Dr Qazi said sadly in Islamabad well-known physicians and allergy centres are using outdated techniques to control allergy.

“There is a need to create awareness among patients how to prevent pollen allergy and from where to get treatment,” he said.

Dr Qazi said that World Asthma Day which is observed on May 7 every year is a day to highlight all these important points to save many lives.

This year’s theme will continue to be “You Can Control Your Asthma”. However, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has also introduced a sub-theme, “It’s Time to Control Asthma”.

According to GINA, asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide. Unfortunately the disease is on the rise in Pakistan too with around 14 million Pakistani’s diagnosed with it. The statistics also reveal 51% of adults and 32% of children of asthmatic patients experience severe attacks of cough, wheeze, tightness or breathlessness. In Pakistan, Multan has the highest number of people diagnosed with asthma.

According to GINA, health experts have cautioned that in Pakistan general physicians have poor knowledge regarding asthma; moreover around 90 % of general practitioners have inadequate knowledge of asthma medication.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Member of the Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) planning committee, a programme run by the World Health Organisation, Dr Muhammad Osman Yusuf  said there is a shortage of professional doctors who could treat asthma patients.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common chronic lung disease with two main causes: inflammation (swelling and excess mucus build-up in the airways) and airway constriction (tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways). Treating both causes of the disease is necessary for many patients to achieve optimal asthma control and help prevent symptoms.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.

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