A breath of fresh air: Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition launches

August 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) announced the launch of the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition, a multi-sector group of advocates and experts dedicated to raising awareness and advancing public policies to improve the health of children who suffer from asthma.

Asthma is the single most common chronic condition among children. Approximately 7.1 million children suffer from asthma, a number that has been rising over the past decade. SPHHS and its partners - the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN), the nation's only organization focused solely on childhood asthma; and First Focus, a bipartisan children's advocacy organization - have established the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition to address this growing public health challenge, which disproportionately affects low-income and minority children.

"In some communities, an estimated 40 percent of all children are living with asthma," said Katie Horton, R.N., M.P.H., J.D., a lead investigator on the project and a research professor within SPHHS's Department of Health Policy. "Using findings from evidence-based research, the Coalition hopes to identify real-world solutions to curtail the rising rates of asthma and help keep kids with asthma healthy."

Asthma is a disease that affects the airways of the lungs and causes wheezing and breathing difficulties. Certain factors that trigger asthma, such as genetic predisposition or a history of allergies, may not be amenable to change. But key risk factors that may cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms - such as exposure to tobacco smoke, allergens and irritants found in indoor environments, and outdoor air pollutants - can be addressed through policy interventions in homes, schools and other places where children live, learn and play.

Since reducing the burden of asthma on children and families requires a multi-pronged approach to address many underlying factors, the new Coalition includes a cross-section of experts from a variety of fields including housing, environmental health, health care delivery, health economics and public policy.

"Asthma is the leading cause of missed school days. The Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition's work is important because keeping kids with asthma healthy gives them a better chance to succeed in school and life," said First Focus President Bruce Lesley. "This Coalition will play a critical role in informing the policy decisions that affect kids with asthma," he said.

By working collaboratively, the Coalition aims to accelerate prevention and improve the diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of childhood asthma through targeted state and federal efforts. In particular, the Coalition intends to work with leaders from the multiple federal agencies charged with implementing the new Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities to develop concrete, actionable policy solutions that reduce the burden of asthma for children living in low-income and medically-underserved communities.

The Coalition will also address barriers that prevent children from accessing the healthcare services they need to control and manage asthma. Children with asthma need a stable source of health insurance and access to health care providers in their communities that can offer case management and health education. However, an estimated 9 percent of children with asthma have no health insurance, and many more live in regions without adequate access to quality care. These gaps in coverage and accessibility leave children vulnerable to frequent asthma attacks, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

The Affordable Care Act offers many new opportunities for children to receive high quality clinical care, case management and health care education, and to become enrolled in Medicaid and private insurance. The Coalition will highlight these and other opportunities to ensure children with asthma get the coverage and care they need to keep their disease in check.

"MCAN looks forward to sharing with the Coalition what it has learned from years of implementing science-based childhood asthma management programs in some of the country's most at-risk communities," said Floyd Malveaux, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of MCAN and former Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University. "We don't know everything about childhood asthma, but we know enough to be helping more children and their families. This Coalition is a big step in the right direction."
-end-
About the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services:

Established in July 1997, the School of Public Health and Health Services brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education that we have since expanded substantially. Today, more than 1,100 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 40 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. Our student body is one of the most ethnically diverse among the nation's private schools of public health. http://sphhs.gwu.edu/

About First Focus

First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.net.

About the Merck Childhood Asthma Network

The Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization established to address the complex and growing problem of pediatric asthma. Funded by the Merck Company Foundation, and led by Floyd Malveaux, M.D., Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert in asthma and allergic diseases and former Dean of the Howard University College of Medicine, MCAN is specifically focused on enhancing access to quality asthma care and management for children in the United States. For more information, visit www.mcanonline.org.

George Washington University

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.