Asthma in a Primary Health Care Center Serving a Poor Population: A Descriptive and Interventional Study

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Asthma is a common chronic disease. Due to difficulties in accessibility to the health care system, asthma affects severely to minorities. This study's objective is to describe the morbidity of asthma on a poor population and its modification after abolishing assistance barriers.

Thirty-four asthma camps were carried out between May 2004 and May 2007. Patients' socioeconomic conditions, asthma history, and symptoms in the last month were determined during the camps. Patients received free medication and were invited to come to follow-up. Fifty-six children younger than 12 years old and 53 adults with persistent asthma were evaluated in 783 visits. The mean monthly income per capita was US $28.57.

At baseline, 50% of children and 34.5% of adults received inhaled corticosteroids. After intervention, 92.7% children and 98.1% adults received inhaled corticosteroids. Treatment was associated with a significant reduction of daytime and nighttime symptoms, absences to school or work, and emergency room visits and admissions. Patients referred less interference and more control of their disease in their everyday life.

Our results suggest that this population receives an insufficient treatment of its asthma severity. For such population, moving specialized assistance to the primary health care center resulted in a better control of their illness.

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