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Dana Wallace, MD, ACAAI President participates in Asthma Awareness Day and Asthma Screening in Washington, DC, May 6, 2011

 
Concurrent with Asthma Awareness Day, the CDC released US asthma prevalence data showing that from 2001-2009 asthma increased 7.3% and now affects 1 in 10 children and 1 in 12 adults.  This made for a media and congressional frenzy—but a good one! Education on use of control medications (<33% of children) and asthma action plans (32%), as reported in the CMC report, continues to be substandard for patients in general. Select populations, e.g., non-Hispanic black children, are hit hardest with an asthma prevalence of 17%.

On May 5th, Tuesday evening, I joined AANMA as we honored those who volunteered their time, money, and effort to make the Asthma Awareness and Asthma Screening such a successful event for the past 14 years! In that period of time we have screened over 125,000 people for asthma and referred over 50% for further evaluation. And all of this has helped 10 times that number of people by calling attention to asthma as a disease we must recognize, respect, and effectively control. Wednesday morning we had a press release followed by the asthma screening. Brooke Curran, a cute, petite, 43-year-old marathon runner, shared her fear when she was told she had asthma at age 30 and her struggle to accept the diagnosis and daily controller treatment. It was inspirational to hear her say that it was all worthwhile, because she was able to put her running shoes back on and now runs a marathon monthly! Anthony, a 13-year-old African-American asthmatic and spokesman for AANMA, brought his 75-member science class to the screening. What an enthusiastic and inquisitive group of middle school students they are!  I had no voice left by the end of the day, after answering questions by students and being interviewed by television and newspaper reporters. But it was worth vocal fatigue to deliver the message that College allergists can bring desperately needed and welcome relief to those with allergies and asthma.

 
Brooke Curran, runner, talking with students 
It is indisputable that thru the efforts of Dr. Talal Nsouli, Nancy Sander, and myself, the congressional leaders, media, and interested public who attended “got the message” that by providing excellent care in a timely manner with access to the right medications, health costs will go down and quality will go up. A few sound bytes, well known to allergists, were delivered over and over again. These included (to list a few):

People FEAR the word ASTHMA but do not need to do so. Asthma cannot be CURED, but it can be CONTROLLED! Allergists not only do it BETTER, but they also do it in a LESS COSTLY manner!

Immunotherapy is the ONLY treatment that can prevent the development of asthma and modify the disease process in allergic people!
Marathon runners with asthma win the race, and SO CAN YOU!

Perhaps the key message from my day on Capital Hill was that It takes us all— allergists, AANMA, related industries, and legislators — pulling together to win the war on asthma! To do so, we must make Asthma Awareness Day an annual event for the College.

 
Group photo left to right are Dr. Talal Nsouli, Sandra Walker, Dr. Dana Wallace, Nancy Sanders, and Brooke Curran

 

 Dr. Talal Nsouli at press conference



 
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