Global network fights asthma

asthmaA world without asthma is the ultimate vision of the Global Asthma Network, launched last week at the University of Auckland.

The network aims to improve care for people with asthma around the world. Its work will range from research into the causes of asthma to improving access to essential medicines.

As the most common cause of chronic illness in children worldwide – with 235 million sufferers around the world – asthma represents a major global challenge in health care and warrants recognition as an urgent target for action.

“The tools to treat asthma are already available,” says Prof. Innes Asher from The University of Auckland. “And the obstacles to well-managed asthma can be overcome. Asthma is a public health problem that can – and should – be addressed now, and GAN will be dedicated to achieving that goal.”

A United Nations high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases in September 2011 resulted in increased discussion about how to handle the growing incidence of NCDs worldwide, and in November 2012, member states met to develop a monitoring framework and some targets for action. However their main focus has been on diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

A key goal for the creators of GAN is to lift the global recognition of asthma to a similar level, and strengthen the international framework for asthma management and research.

The new network, launched on 27 November, brings together two key players in the international fight against asthma: the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), led from The University of Auckland, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), founded in France in 1920.

ISAAC is a worldwide asthma research project, the largest epidemiological study of children in the world, with more than two million children studied over 22 years in more than 300 centres in 105 countries.

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