‘It’s never too early, or too late’

2019-04-17 06:00
PHOTO: sourced

PHOTO: sourced

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• World Asthma Day 2019

World Asthma Day is an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. Held on the first Tuesday of May, this year it takes place on May 7.

• Who is NAEP?

NAEP (The National Asthma Education Programme) is a non-profit organisation that aims to disseminate impartial information about asthma diagnosis and treatment to health professionals and the South African public. They also run courses, workshops, and meetings for the public and professionals.

NAEP was first launched in 1989 by key opinion leaders in South Africa and is part of an international organisation/drive which subscribes to guidelines set out by GINA­, the South African Thoracic Society (SATS) and the Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA).

• What is the focus this year with World Asthma Day?

This year’s theme is “STOP for Asthma”. STOP stands for:

S — Symptom Evaluation

T — Test Response

O — Observe and Assess

P — Proceed to adjust treatment.

• NAEP aims to:

- Educate university and school children about asthma

- Encourage people to share their stories about asthma on their social media (Facebook­ and Twitter) pages to increase awareness around asthma

• 2019 social media outreach­

This year, NAEP is focusing on educating school pupils and university students about asthma.

They are currently running a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, leading up to World Asthma Day, and are encouraging people to share their stories and raise awareness.

• How do you find NAEP?

Find them on Facebook @NAEPSA or on Twitter at AsthmaEdu_SA or email naepr@netactive.co.za

• Why the focus on asthma in South Africa?

South Africa is currently fourth in the world, and first in Africa, in terms of asthma fatalities.

According to the 2014 Global Asthma Report, 1.5% of 3.9 million South Africans die from this preventable disease annually.

South Africa has the world’s fourth highest asthma death rate among five to 35 year olds.

Asthma is the third most common cause of hospital admissions of children, yet only two percent of patients with asthma receive treatment.

In 2017, a 21-old BCom student died of an asthma attack while on campus at the University of North West, leaving his parents to question whether the institution could have done more to save his life.

In 2016, a 20-year old Rhodes University student similarly lost her life, again to an asthma attack.

It was this student’s death that prompted the foundation of the LJS Foundation, formed by her parents, to raise awareness about asthma and to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and communities.

• Why is NAEP focusing on schools and universities for 2019?

In 2012, a peer reviewed article about asthma and schools in South Africa was published in South African Family Practice.

The study took data from 226 school teachers in 19 randomly selected primary schools in Umdoni, KwaZulu-Natal.

They asked those teachers 55 questions to test their knowledge about asthma and handling an asthma emergency.

The results indicated that only 38.5% of these teachers were able to answer more than 50% of the questions correctly.

The outcome of this study was that teachers lacked basic knowledge about asthma, and that not all South African schools have the necessary emergency measures in place.

• Allergies on the rise in SA

According to ALLSA, there has been an increase in allergies in South Africa, which means that asthma care needs to be addressed.

There are also inadequate guidelines for asthma care in schools.

Our focus this year is, thus, on school and university students, as we echo the driving force behind this year’s World Asthma Day: it is never too early, and never too late.

“Asthma is the third most common cause of hospital admissions of children, yet only two percent of patients with asthma receive treatment.”

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