LACK of adequate control of asthma remains a major hindrance to its management in Nigeria. Even though asthma control can be achieved, data shows that the majority of patients are still uncontrolled despite frequent visits to their doctors or pharmacists.
Consultant respiratory physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr, Cyril Chukwu who gave this assertion, added that uncontrolled asthma is a serious concern as it causes patients to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath and disturbed sleep.
Chukwu spokeÂ Â a workshop organised for health reporters, by Healthways Communications Ltd, in collaboration with a multinational pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, the worldâ€™s biggest manufacturers of medications for asthma control.
He stessed that uncontrolled asthma patients use more healthcare resources and because they overestimate their control and under-report their symptoms, it makes it difficult for doctors to assess asthma control correctly.
Mr Lekan Asuni, Managing Director of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Nigeria Ltd said GSK was committed to improving the quality of life of asthma patients and was doing a lot to help them do more for themselves, feel better and live longer. He disclosed that the company had made huge investments to build capacity within the medical and pharmaceutical communities to ensure optimal control and prevention of the disease as espoused by GINAÂ guidelines.
Organised worldwide by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), this yearâ€™s edition of the World Asthma Day with the theme, â€œYou Can Control Your Asthmaâ€ has been designed to emphasise recent developments showing that effective asthma treatments exist and with proper diagnosis, education, and treatment, the great majority of asthma patients can achieve and maintain control of their disease condition. When asthma is under control, patients can live full and active lives.
GINA estimates that more than 300 million people around the world have asthma with over 250,000 deaths recorded annually. The disease also imposes a heavy burden on individuals, families, and societies.
According to the GINA Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention (2007), asthma control means that a person with asthma has no (or minimal) asthma symptoms; no waking at night due to asthma and no (or minimal) need to use â€œrelieverâ€ medication.Â Â Â Others are the ability to do normal physical activity and exercise, normal (or near-normal) lung function test results (PEF and FEV1) and no (or very infrequent) asthma attacks.
Experts say the incidence of asthma is on the increase in Nigeria along with its attending mortality. Majority of asthma patients are under – diagnosed and those diagnosed are not receiving adequate management. Also, there is a general low level of awareness about the disease, especially its chronic nature and various strategies for its treatment.
â€œAs the leading pharmaceutical company in asthma management, GSK is concerned about the low level of awareness on the disease, its control, management and prevention,â€ stated Mr Yaw Agyarko, the companyâ€™s respiratory drugs product manager for Anglophone West Africa.
GSK has embarked on a large scale campaign on asthma prevention and treatment in Nigeria to draw attention to appropriate control measures throughÂ GINA guidelines, that asthmatics can achieve total control of their condition, to the extent that it will have no limit their lives.