ABOUT THE REPORT
The Global Asthma Report 2014 has been prepared by the Global Asthma Network (GAN) Steering Group and invited authors with additional expertise. It provides substantial up-to-date information about asthma: each chapter is a state-of-the-art summary of what is known and where the gaps lie, and each makes recommendations to authorities on required actions. Included are findings from new GAN surveys on asthma guidelines, national asthma strategies and access to quality-assured, affordable asthma medicines.
Designed for government ministers, policy-makers, health authorities, health professionals, patient support organisations and people living with asthma, this report gives an update of what is known about the global burden of asthma, management of asthma and capacity building, and ways of making asthma a global priority.
It is encouraging to see that recognition of asthma as a global problem has increased since the first Global Asthma Report 2011 was published by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC).
GAN was established in 2012, building on the work pioneered and achieved by the ISAAC programme over the preceding 20 years and the asthma management work of The Union in low- and middle-income countries. The people involved in founding GAN, from each organisation, were largely those involved in publishing the Global Asthma Report 2011.
GAN is a worldwide collaboration, involving more than half the world’s countries. It will undertake global surveys of asthma in children and adults to measure and monitor asthma and its burden, providing the essential data called for by the World Health Organization. No one else is currently doing this work. GAN aims to reduce asthma suffering by improving asthma care globally, with a focus on low-and middle-income countries, achieving this through research, capacity building, and access to effective asthma management and care including quality–assured essential asthma medicines.
Elsewhere, there have been other developments increasing the visibility of asthma. On 19 September 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) made a political declaration on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), focussing world attention on the increasing threat of asthma and other NCDs to global health, social welfare and economic development, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This was followed in 2013 by two reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) on NCDs: A Global Action Plan 2013-2020 and Global Monitoring Framework. In July 2014 the UN held a review meeting. In his opening address the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said
“…The global epidemic of NCDs is a major and growing challenge to development. Each year, in developing countries alone, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes or asthma kill more than 12 million people between the ages of 30 and 70…”.
While estimating the number of people in the world with asthma remains difficult due to the many gaps in the data, the Global Burden of Diseases Study (GBD) published in 2012 gave us the latest estimate of asthma prevalence, indicating that as many as 334 million people in the world have asthma, and that the related burden is high.
Since 2012, WHO has published guidelines for the prevention and control of asthma in primary health care in low-resource settings. Guidelines on asthma from other organisations, including the Global Initiative on Asthma (GINA), have been updated. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) has published a Global Atlas of Asthma. The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) has published its report “Respiratory diseases in the world. Realities of today – opportunities for tomorrow”, which highlights asthma as one of the top 5 respiratory diseases in the world.
All these activities, concerns, developments and knowledge inform contents of the Global Asthma Report 2014 and its recommendations. We hope you will find it useful. We will continue to work together to increase the worldwide understanding of this disease, and to reduce the burden and suffering from asthma, over the next few years.