Celebrating World Asthma Day
The prevalence of asthma and allergic rhinitis in Nigeria is high with variabilities across regions and age groups. The number of persons with clinical asthma in Nigeria (approximately 13 million) is likely to rank among the highest in Africa.
This warrants prioritization by stakeholders and policy makers to actively implement risk reduction measures and increase investment in capacity building for the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergic rhinitis.
However, economic development and urbanization in many parts of Africa for example, are likely to contribute to the upsurge in the prevalence of asthma in this region. Urbanization has led to increased income, adoption of the Western diet and lifestyle, decline in childhood infections, atopic sensitization and increase in air pollution which are associated with developing asthma.
Nigeria is a diverse country with heterogeneity in climate, ethnicity, urbanization and cultural practices making it expedient to derive a national estimate from a broad-based survey. These factors also influence the prevalence of allergic rhinitis and very few studies have explored the co-existence of asthma and allergic rhinitis.
The Asthma Insight Reality (AIR) survey sampling plan was designed to provide a nationally representative sample of households for screening to identify a community prevalence of persons with asthma and also to identify persons with asthma for further evaluation on asthma management.
A cross-sectional population survey was conducted between June 2017 and March 2018 across five cities representing five geo-political zones in Nigeria. Validated screening questionnaires were used to identify persons with asthma and allergic rhinitis respectively. Asthma was defined as physician diagnosed asthma, clinical asthma and by presence of wheeze in the last 12 months respectively. Socio-demographic information, tobacco smoking, sources of household cooking fuel were also obtained.
Regarding the use of haler, there are three basic types of inhalers that deliver medications. The most common is the metered-dose inhaler (or MDI) which uses pressure to push the medication out of the inhaler. Nebulizers use air or oxygen and deliver a mist of the medication through a tube or mask that fits over your nose and mouth. Dry powder inhalers (or DPIs) deliver medication, but they require a strong and fast inhalation.
Nigerian health workers should be responsible of guiding those who are suffering from this disease on how to use those asthma medicines (inhalers). Though inhalers can be life-saving devices for those who suffer from conditions such as asthma, incorrect use of them can be dangerous. When used too often, however, this can cause inhaler overdose and it can be a sign that the patient is lacking asthma control.
I call on the attention of the federal and state governments especially the managers of the health sector to take on the responsibility of disease management, judging by the aforementioned effects of asthma and the measures needed to eradicate/reduce the menace of this deadly disease.