EditorialHealth

EDITORIAL: Worth a Breath of Fresh Air

May is Asthma Awareness Month – a time set aside to focus on the causes, prevention and cure for the chronic lung disease that takes the breath away from children and adults all year long. A coalition of organizations and concerned citizens have introduced a three-year Strategic Asthma Plan for the District and they are calling on the local government to provide $1.5 million to launch what they are calling the DC Asthma Campaign.

The CDC reports the District of Columbia still ranks among the states with the highest prevalence of residents living with asthma. The majority of them are Black male children under the age of 18 who live under the federal poverty threshold.

The aim of the DC Asthma Coalition and others is to educate asthma sufferers about experiences and environmental exposures that lead to asthmatic attacks to better manage their condition. Asthma carries a heavy burden on local hospital emergency rooms and hospital stays. One-third of all missed school days in the nation are due to asthma, and the number is equally as high among school-aged children in the District, particularly in Wards 7 and 8.

At a recent press conference held at United Medical Center in Southeast, hospital officials and members of the DC Asthma Coalition presented a Strategic Action Plan to address the conditions among the city’s poorest communities that suffer the most from asthma. They argue that while there have been plans to address asthma in the past, those plans were not sustainable due to the lack of funding.

In the District’s poorest neighborhoods where the environmental conditions lead to a higher incidence of asthma, the Coalition wants to dive deeply into an education awareness program that will help to change mindsets from treating asthma in an emergency room toward prevention by addressing conditions in the home, classrooms and the community that lead to asthma flareups.

he American Lung Association advises that while there is no cure for asthma, “the good news is it can be managed and treated so you can live a normal, healthy life.”

The socio-economic and environmental conditions in poorer communities should not be the chokeholds that keep residents from living a normal and healthy life. If greater resources can help to provide a breath of fresh air, especially among our children, we urge city officials to make it happen.

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