Little things make a big difference for asthma sufferers
More than 9,000 people suffer from asthma in Bermuda, and more than 2,000 of those who suffered chronic attacks ended up in the hospital’s emergency ward last year.
Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin highlighted the numbers yesterday on World Asthma Day, which is observed in different ways in 80 countries world wide.
She noted the “prevalence of asthma is escalating around the world and has reached epidemic levels”.
“In Bermuda, asthma is the most common long term condition — affecting over 9,000 people. One in five children and approximately one in ten adults have asthma in Bermuda — this is one of the highest rates of asthma in the world,” she said.
“The good news is that since Open Airways started their Island-wide asthma education programme, hospital admissions for asthma have fallen by 73 percent — which must be a world record.
“The bad news is that over 2,000 people were seen in the Hospital’s emergency department last year for asthma. Each visit means asthma management has failed.”
She commended Open Airways for hosting the event, held on the steps of City Hall. Organisers distributed information on asthma and handed out free spacers and microfibre cloths. Lung function tests were offered to smokers and former smokers over the age of 40.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin emphasised that “asthma is common, disabling, disruptive, life threatening and treatable”.
The theme of World Asthma Day in Bermuda was ‘Little Things Make a Big Difference’, “which means teaching people who have asthma simple things they can do to manage their asthma, like buying a new pillow each year,” said the Minister.
Free pillows are handed out to all primary school students through the Asthma Education Programme run in all 46 schools by Open Airways, according to Liz Boden of Open Airways.
“We educate the doctors and nurses to make sure that we have the very best care right here in Bermuda. We don’t need people going overseas for asthma care, we have the best asthma care right here.
“We educate the individual and their families, we educate all the schools. We provide basic equipment to make sure that everybody gets good asthma control. And I believe that Bermuda is a very special place and this is why we’re making such good headway here. If we join together we can really make a difference and help Bermuda breathe.”
Debbie Barboza, who runs the Asthma Education Centre at King Edward VII, said: “We still have a lot of work to do here in Bermuda to tackle this big problem.”
She encouraged everyone who knows someone who suffers from asthma to get in touch with the Asthma Education Centre by calling the hospital.
“They don’t need a referral, basic insurance will cover their visit and all children are free to see me. One hour of education could change your life, it might even save your life.
“Are you willing to make that investment for yourself or someone you care about? Come for asthma education.”
Jennifer Wilson, better known as ‘Nurse Jen’, was introduced as the woman who drives from one end of the Island to the other to see school students who suffer from asthma. She encouraged all those who suffer from asthma to get the facts to help manage their cases.
“Persons whose asthma management included a written asthma action plan have been shown to experience less hospitalisation, emergency room visits and days off from work and school.
“So see your doctor, get a personal asthma action plan and remember that little things really do make a big difference,” she said.