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Parents urged to put asthmatic children on register or risk missing out on support

Liz Boden of Open Airways displaying a peak flow meter, which measures lung function (File photograph)

About half of schoolchildren with asthma are not listed on a register of students who have the condition, a charity has estimated.

Liz Boden, co-founder of Open Airways, said that pupils should not miss out on lessons or activities because of asthma if it is properly controlled.

She was speaking as Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, urged parents of children with asthma to register them on the 2022-23 Bermuda Student Asthma Registry.

The record means that healthcare providers as well as the ministries of health and education can track pupils with the condition and make sure they have support.

Ms Wilson said: “Statistics show that approximately one in five schoolchildren in Bermuda has asthma, that’s 20 per cent.”

Ms Boden, an asthma nurse, added: “With proper treatment and control, these students should not be missing school due to their asthma and should be able to participate in all school activities, including sports.”

The 2021-22 Student Asthma Registry listed 451 students.

Ms Boden said: “We estimate this to be approximately 50 per cent of the actual total number of Bermuda students with asthma.

“An analysis of the 2021-2022 information shows that there is still much work to be done.”

The 2021-22 results showed that almost half of all students with asthma missed school days.

They showed that although 73 per cent of pupils with asthma believed it was “well-controlled”, 33 per cent of those students missed days of school owing to asthma.

The results showed that 31 per cent of pupils were either incorrectly using their spacer — a small asthma control device — or did not have a spacer at all.

A government spokeswoman said: “Using a spacer helps the inhaled medication to work more effectively and efficiently with less side-effects.”

The asthma registry is a joint effort by the departments of education and health, the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s Asthma Education Centre and Open Airways.

The spokeswoman said that any information provided would remain confidential.

Ms Wilson added: “The goal is to improve and assist students with asthma to have the healthiest year possible.

“Parents are asked to submit their information each September to ensure accuracy as students' health and school details can change.

“Registering annually also allows our asthma specialists to afford the most up-to-date assessment of affected students.”

Debbie Barboza, a BHB and Department of Health asthma nurse educator, said: “Our collaborative team of health providers is working with the primary aim of ensuring every child with asthma receives the proper guidance and assistance they need with their asthma to have a healthy and successful school year.

“Highly skilled asthma nurses will review the statistics of the survey and will target their assistance to those most in need.

“To assist with these efforts, Open Airways will deliver free spacers and offer spacer technique demos at various locations island wide.”

* Information about children with asthma, or suspected to have asthma, can be added to the 202202023 Bermuda Student Asthma Registry at https://bit.ly/2022BermudaStudentAsthmaRegistry. For more information e-mail Mary Ellen Ewles at mary@openairways.com.

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Published August 29, 2022 at 7:47 am (Updated August 29, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Parents urged to put asthmatic children on register or risk missing out on support

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