One thousand, seven hundred and four Ghanaians lost their lives to asthma, World Health Organisation data published in 2017 has stated.
According to the data, the figure accounted for 0.81 per cent of total deaths in the country.
Despite the alarming figures, an asthma specialist at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Allen Steele-Dadzie, believes that most asthma deaths in the country are avoidable.
Dr Dadzie, who was speaking on the topic ‘Why Asthma Still Kills Daily In Ghana’ at the monthly clinical meeting organised by the Holy Trinity Medical Centre, recommended the adoption of comprehensive asthma care such as the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), Global Strategy for Asthma Management & Prevention, all aimed at reducing asthma morbidity.
He explained that the guidelines would provide knowledge in the management of asthma in the area of early diagnosis, effective acute care, comprehensive assessment, control-based management, physician-patient partnership and empower patient to ensure self-management efficacy.
The asthma specialist also advised doctors to regularly assess and document the inhaler technique of patients and also urged pharmacists to check the condition of inhaler devices when dispensed to patients.
“General practice should have a designated, named clinical lead for asthma services, responsible for formal training in the management of acute asthma. Patients with asthma must be referred to a specialist asthma service,” he said.
He further called on government health agencies to pay more attention to the growing prevalence of asthma in the country as had been shown in studies that were carried out in the absence of robust data on asthma situation in the country.
“Prevalence in Ghana high; ISAAC phase II study in Kintampo found prevalence of 6.4 per cent among children 8-12 years,” he noted.
A study carried out by Addo Yobbo et al, ‘exercise-induced bronchospasm and atopy in Ghana: two surveys ten years apart’ also showed 3.1 per cent in schoolchildren in Kumasi in 1993 nearly doubled (5.2 per cent) in 10 years,” he disclosed.
According to GINA, asthma is a heterogeneous disease usually characterised by chronic airway inflammation.
It is defined by the history of respiratory symptoms such as wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough that vary over time and in intensity, together with variable expiratory airflow limitation.