World Asthma Day is an annual awareness day organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awareness day that is being celebrated on May 1st worldwide.
According to WHO estimates, 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide, which can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. It is the most common chronic disease among children, and is so often under-diagnosed and under-treated, creating a substantial burden for individuals and families. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to control it to reduce and prevent asthma attacks – the dangerous and sometimes life-threatening episodes that reduce the quality of life for people with asthma. Attacks can be prevented if people living with the condition learn how to avoid triggers such as tobacco smoke, mould, outdoor air pollution, and colds/ flu. Asthma episodes can also be prevented by using inhaled corticosteroids and other prescribed daily long-term control medicines correctly.
This year’s World Asthma Day theme is “NEVER TOO EARLY, NEVER TOO LATE. It’s always the right time to address airways disease.” The theme provides a call to action for both patients and healthcare providers worldwide to evaluate symptoms regardless of the stage they occur in a persons life, and to take actions to ensure that the asthma is controlled.
The Global Initiative for Asthma has a list of suggested activities one can engage in to raise awareness or fundraise for the cause on May 1st:
- Hold a public open day or a free-of-charge asthma screening clinic at your local hospital or surgery.
- Set up a telephone helpline for patients and the public, with free calls if possible to maximise access for all.
- Organise a hike for people with asthma and their friends, led by a health care provider who can educate the group about managing asthma in an outdoor environment.
- Make learning about asthma control fun by creating games for children that will educate them about asthma control, or invite physicians to compete in a quiz about GINA’s recommendations for asthma control.
- Alert your local and national media of the date and theme for World Asthma Day, the latest information about the burden of asthma (and asthma hospitalisations) in your region, and the meaning of asthma control.
- Encourage members of the public to participate in a World Asthma Day ‘Drawing Breath’ competition—how might breath look if you could see it? The judging and award presentation could become an event that may attract media attention.
- Hold a World Asthma Day sponsored walk, run, swim, or soccer match. Invite well-known athletes from the area to take part alongside asthma patients from all walks of life.
- Hold a bake sale/coffee morning.
- Organise a car-free or quit-smoking day.