Social stigma of asthma increases underdiagnosis and inadequate treatment.
Asthma affects many children in Malaysia but it is under-recognised and often goes undiagnosed, and hence inadequately managed. This is, in part, due to the stigma associated with asthma, leading to denial of the diagnosis by patients and caregivers, and hesitancy among medical practitioners to diagnose asthma.
Patient support groups and asthma websites are available in Malaysia. There are periodic media initiatives on asthma, especially around World Asthma Day. Malaysian medical schools teach the recognition and management of asthma. Continuing education initiatives update clinicians with asthma information both on-the-job and at academic meetings.
National clinical practice guidelines, updated in 2014 and 2017, respectively, are available for paediatric and adult asthma. These guidelines highlight the need for preventive treatment and asthma action plans. The paediatric clinical practice guideline encourages the use of metered dose inhalers and spacer devices in the management of asthma. However, a recent survey showed many patients are still receiving oral or nebulised bronchodilators inappropriately.
Medicines free for some
Asthma medication is freely available. Children diagnosed with asthma and attending public schools may receive their prescribed medications, at least inhaled bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids, free-of-charge from government healthcare facilities. This is more likely to happen in areas where there are paediatric units.