By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
THE Federal government has been called upon to put in place measures that would ensure the proper diagnosis and management of asthma in the country so as to reduce the burden of the disease and rate of death within the populace.
Making the call in Lagos last week, the Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Professor Wale Oke, said there was need more emphasis on the control of asthma, in addition to the relief of symptoms of the disorder.
Oke, who recalled that asthma was once believed to be more of an acute ailment as opposed to a chronic inflammatory disease, argued that the emphasis on the inflammatory component of the disease has brought about a paradigm shift in the way it has been managed across the world.
Severity of symptoms
“In the past, management and treatment of asthma was based on individual opinion, individual perception and sometimes even personal belief. Asthma was categorized according to the severity of its symptoms rather than how it could be controlled. What is desired is accurate, basic and balanced information to assist practitioners,” he said.
He regretted that in developing countries like Nigeria, the severity of asthma is grossly underestimated, and that it was not surprising that the shift in treatment plan remains unimplemented.
“The consequence of this is the persistent increase in the mortality and morbidity among sufferers. This can be prevented,” he stated.
Speaking during the official launch of the new Guidelines for the Management of Asthma he noted that “Here in Nigeria, our Asthmatics continue to die from poor/misdiagnosis, lack of management guidelines, stigmatisation and poor device use. The situation, informed the decision to develop the management guidelines.”
Developed in collaboration with GSK Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited, under its “Breathe Easy Project”, the guideline, first of its kind in Nigeria, is aimed at ensuring that no asthmatic dies as a result of their asthma.
Recognising that Asthma can be severe and even fatal if not well managed, the Managing Director, GSK Pharma, Mr. Cesar Marval, said the whole essence of the guideline is to ensure the asthma is very well managed and does not get to the position whereby it is fatal
“For us at GSK, this initiative is at the heart of our very existence. It aligns with our mission is to improve the quality of human lives to help people do more, feel better and live longer.
“Our commitment to improve asthma management and respiratory health is further demonstrated by the establishment of the GSK Breathe Easy Initiative. This initiative aims to help improve the appropriate diagnosis and management of asthma such as supporting the launch of this guideline,” Marval stated.