Photo: Inhalers are mainly used in the treatment of asthma
This week U.S. federal agencies unveiled the Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities.
Nearly 26 million Americans are affected by this chronic respiratory disease, including 7 million children, especially minority children and children with family incomes below the poverty level. Asthma rates of African American children are currently at 16 percent, while 16.5 percent of Puerto Rican children suffer from the chronic respiratory disease, more than double the rate of Caucasian children in the United States. The annual economic cost of asthma, including direct medical costs from hospital stays and indirect costs such as lost school and work days, amounts to approximately $56 billion.
“Low-income and minority communities often face an unacceptable burden of pollution in this country, diminishing their economic potential and threatening the health of millions of American families,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “As we close National Asthma Awareness Month today, the President’s Administration is standing behind his commitment to integrating environmental justice into the missions of federal agencies, promoting clean air and healthy communities, and ensuring this really is a country of equal opportunity for all.”
The action plan will coordinate efforts to improve asthma management and prevention:
- Reduce barriers to asthma care: Ensure that the populations most severely impacted by asthma receive evidence-based comprehensive care, which includes access to medical services, education and environmental interventions.
- Build local capacity: Enhance capacity to deliver integrated, community-based asthma care systems.
- Target services: Identify the children, families and communities most impacted by asthma disparities.
- Accelerate prevention efforts: Increase understanding of the cause or causes of asthma and test interventions that may prevent the onset of asthma.