Challenges in Treating Pediatric Asthma in Developing Countries

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Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children in many low- and middle-income countries. In these settings, the burden of childhood asthma is increasing and is associated with severe disease. There are a number of challenges to providing optimal management of childhood asthma in such settings. These include under-diagnosis of childhood asthma, access to care, ability of healthcare workers to manage asthma, availability and affordability of inhaled therapy, environmental control of potential triggers, education of healthcare providers and of the public, and cultural or language issues.

International and national guidelines for childhood asthma have been produced, but implementation remains a real challenge. Access to and affordability of essential inhaled asthma drugs, especially low-dose inhaled corticosteroids and short-acting bronchodilators, are major challenges to effective asthma control in many countries. A low-cost spacer made from a plastic bottle is effective for use with a metered-dose inhaler, but use must be included in asthma educational initiatives. Educational programs for healthcare personnel and for the public that are culturally and language appropriate are needed for effective implementation of asthma guidelines. Socioeconomic and structural barriers to care within health services remain obstacles to achieving optimal treatment of asthma for many children.

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