Provides up-to-date information about asthma, and summarises what is known and where the gaps lie. The report also makes recommendations to authorities on required actions.
When examining the burden of asthma today, there is much to be concerned about.
Asthma is a common chronic non-communicable disease that affects as many as 334 million people of all ages in all parts of the world. It is a cause of substantial burden to people, often causing a reduced quality of life, not only due to its physical effects, but also its psychological and social effects. The various estimates of its economic burden, mostly due to productivity loss, are all significant. Further, avoidable asthma deaths are still occurring due to inappropriate management of asthma, including over-reliance on reliever medication rather than preventer medication. Asthma is a particularly serious burden in low- and middle-income countries least able to afford the costs.
While our knowledge has increased, the remaining gaps in the data are significant.
While hospital admissions save lives during acute asthma attacks, there are many places where the number of hospital admissions is too high, and the reasons for this need more research. The factors affecting asthma also require further research. New surveys are needed to update asthma trends, assess the burden of asthma and access to effective management. Meanwhile, GAN is working towards closing the data gaps.
But much of this burden of disease and lack of information is avoidable.
Asthma which is well controlled imposes far less of an economic and personal burden than non-controlled asthma. Strategies towards improving access and adherence to evidence-based therapies can therefore be effective in reducing the personal and economic burden of asthma in all countries. Implementation of relatively simple measures within a systematic national or local strategy can improve early detection of asthma and provide effective preventive treatment. Asthma management guidelines are an essential part of successfully managing asthma and promoting the delivery of quality asthma care; these are widely available.
Political commitment and action are required to make the burden of asthma a thing of the past.
The Global Asthma Report 2014 makes many recommendations to the World Health Organization (WHO), governments, health authorities and health professionals, which, if followed, will transform asthma globally from a burden to an inconvenience.