Bermuda celebrates World Asthma Day
Children with severe, persistent asthma are 30 times more likely to develop chronic respiratory disease in adulthood, according to the Minister of Health.
Speaking during the World Asthma Day celebrations, Jeanne Atherden stressed the importance of adequate asthma management and urged parents to keep up their children's prevention routine during the holidays.
“Asthma is a life-threatening disease and while it cannot be cured, it can be controlled,” she said. “Asthma educators agree that every person diagnosed with asthma should have an asthma action plan, created in consultation with their physician.
“Children who suffer from severe persistent asthma are thirty times more likely to develop chronic respiratory disease in adulthood, so it's vital to adequately manage childhood asthma.
“School will soon be out for the summer and I ask that all parents, guardians and summer camp administrators listen carefully — summer holidays does not mean taking a break from a child's asthma prevention routine. Keep using the asthma action plan. Children should understand their asthma triggers and symptoms. Instruct your child how to use an asthma inhaler and spacer correctly.”
She also reminded parents and guardians to make sure children bring their spacer and inhaler to summer camp every day.
And pointing out that one in five schoolchildren in Bermuda have asthma, she added: “Asthma must be well treated so that persistent inflammation of airways does not lead to chronic shortness of breath.
“If you suffer from asthma, see your doctor, make an appointment with an asthma nurse and get a personal asthma action plan.”
Bermuda joined a host of countries to take part in the world's most important asthma awareness event, organised locally by charity Open Airways.
Asthma educators were on hand at City Hall to provide information and free pillows were available for the first 100 people with asthma who attended.
Open Airways managing director Wendy Augustus explained that asthma affects 235 million people worldwide and about 7,000 people in Bermuda.
“We know that asthma is disruptive,” she said. “Children with asthma will miss at least one to two days out of a school year.
“Approximately three out of five people with asthma will limit their physical activity. Adults with asthma will miss approximately one day a year from work. But there is hope — asthma can be controlled.
“So let's today celebrate breathing, celebrate World Asthma Day, but most of all, let's celebrate 20 years of helping Bermuda breathe through Open Airways.”
Ms Atherden also commended the organisation, which works tirelessly to care and advocate for asthma sufferers every day, for the work it has done in the community over the past 20 years.
“Education about how to control asthma has been the bedrock of their work. Over 285 healthcare professionals have been trained to diploma level, as well as patients and their caregivers.
“Their work is not limited to asthma, but to anyone who has respiratory problems. Their mission is to help Bermuda breathe and they certainly have.”
However, Ms Atherden and Ms Augustus, along with Debbie Barboza, Bermuda Hospitals Board asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease nurse educator, stressed that there is more work to do.
“Our emergency visits at King Edward have dropped, from the 1,800 visits to now 1,600 visits, which is a great improvement,” Ms Barboza said.
“But please bear in mind that a visit to the emergency room is a failure in asthma management, so we still have a lot of work to do.”
She asked those who attended the event whether they have asthma symptoms or have to use their reliever inhaler more than twice a week, and whether they wake at night or ever have to restrict their activities because of asthma.
“If the answer is yes to any one of those questions, I invite you to come to the asthma centre, so we can work in partnership to optimise your self care to keep your asthma controlled,” she said.
“Everybody needs a personal action plan and that includes you. Call 293-1652 and help us work in partnership with you to control your asthma.”
• For more information on Open Airways, visit www.openairways.com