Asthma Malaysia today announced the ‘Kawal Lelah Sebelum Parah’ campaign to raise public awareness on asthma. This was held against the backdrop of World Lung Day 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim to empower patients with asthma with knowledge of the best measures to help control their condition.
Held today in Kuala Lumpur, the campaign was officiated by YBhg. Tan Sri Jemilah Mahmood, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Health and jointly launched with Dr. Helmy Haja Mydin, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Co-founder of Asthma Malaysia, and Dr. Sanjeev Panchal, Country President, AstraZeneca Malaysia.
The campaign brings together various players from both the medical profession such as Malaysian Thoracic Society (MTS), Family Medicine Specialist Association (FMSA), Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) and the private sector who have the same goal of improving the lives of patients with asthma. These organisations include AstraZeneca Malaysia, AA Pharmacy, BIG Pharmacy, Caring Pharmacy, Alpro Pharmacy, AMPM Pharmacy, HTM Pharmacy, Multicare Pharmacy, Straits Pharmacy and Wellings Pharmacy.
Asthma is an inflammatory disease that affects as many as 339 million people worldwide. In Malaysia, asthma affects almost two million patients. Adults with respiratory diseases are the second most common cause of death within the Ministry of Health hospitals. A local study Assessing Asthma control level in Primary Care setting (ASCOPE) had revealed that 8 out of 10 patients in clinics are patients with mild asthma. Unfortunately, less than 50% have good overall control of asthma3. The presence of COVID-19 is an added concern for those with asthma, as patients with poorly controlled asthma have a higher risk of complications from the viral infection.
The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), a medical guidelines organisation for asthma, unveiled their guidelines for asthma management in 2020. These guidelines no longer recommend the use of Short-Acting Beta2-Agonist (SABA) alone to manage asthma symptoms5 – one of the most significant changes in asthma management over the past 30 years. In fact, GINA has highlighted the danger of overusing SABA inhalers for patients who consumes 3 or more canisters per year.
Studies have shown that the use of SABAs in the absence of effective anti-inflammatory treatment has been associated with an increased risk of asthma exacerbations, increased hospital admissions and asthma related-deaths due to increased levels of airway inflammation. Despite the growing evidence against SABA overuse, the practise of excessive over-prescribing and over-reliance of SABA still persists.
To address these concerns, Asthma Malaysia has partnered with a number of professional organisations and private entities to educate the public as well as healthcare professionals on the importance of breaking the chain of SABA over-reliance. The ‘Kawal Lelah Sebelum Parah’ awareness campaign is one of the pillars of this effort, focusing on public education and empowering individuals to take control of their asthma.
Besides the ‘Kawal Lelah Sebelum Parah’ awareness campaign, AstraZeneca has lent support to other efforts to improve asthma management. These include uplifting the capabilities of healthcare professionals through an on-going series of webinars and PACE (Primary Asthma Care Excellence) programme, an e-learning module and providing the latest patient materials for asthma patients through the Breathe EaSY programme.
For latest information and further enquiries, please visit Asthma Malaysia Facebook Page.