High asthma prevalence
South Africa remains one of the countries with the highest prevalence of childhood asthma in the African continent. Recent data from the Global Asthma Network (GAN) Phase I, has found a high prevalence of asthma and a striking increase in severe symptoms in adolescents in Cape Town (Table 1).
Risk factors for severe disease
Of concern is that in this study 8.8% of 13-14 year olds had self-reported smoking. Despite changes in access to basic services in South Africa, social support and attempts at re-engineering the health care system to a primary care-based model, a large proportion of children were largely undiagnosed (66%). They include those with severe symptoms, indicating substantial underdiagnosis and lack of appropriate care. Risk factors for severe disease remain linked to sociodemographic factors, including, smoking, pet exposure, pollution exposure and informal housing as well as poor access to care or to effective therapy.