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Health Care Workers trained to Bring Better Diagnosis and Treatment to Kenyans Suffering from Asthma

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York, NY, Paris, France and Nairobi, Kenya) -The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), World Lung Foundation (WLF) and the Kenya Association to Prevent Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (KAPTLD) today announced that more than 30 health care workers from clinics around greater Nairobi have completed special training in the diagnosis, management and monitoring of asthma.

Nearly 50 million people in Africa suffer from asthma, according to the Global Burden of Asthma Report (2004), and the prevalence is generally higher in urban than in rural areas. Surveys conducted by The Union have found that the two principal challenges to managing this growing problem in low- and middle-income countries are the high cost of essential asthma medicines and a lack of training in standardized case management for the disease. The training course is part of an innovative, comprehensive program sponsored by the three organizations that addresses both of these challenges to asthma management in Kenya:

  • A comprehensive asthma care program including diagnosis, affordable medicine, case management, staff training and public education have been supported by World Lung Foundation (WLF) through funds raised by fielding a team of runners in the New York City Half-Marathon.
  • The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) supplied the asthma medicines through the Asthma Drug Facility (ADF), an innovative procurement mechanism established by The Union that makes quality-assured asthma medicines available to low- and middle-income countries at an average of 50% of the usual cost. Its Department of Lung Health and Non-Communicable Diseases developed the training and technical assistance materials provided for the program.
  • The program is being administered by the KAPTLD, initially targeting 700 asthma patients through 15 clinics in and near Nairobi, reflecting the higher prevalence of asthma in urban areas.
  • The KAPTLD also led this week's training course for health care workers from those clinics, covering topics such as:
    • the prevalence of asthma in Kenya
    • risk factors that increase the severity of asthma or susceptibility to the disease
    • instruction in the correct use of a peakflow meter to obtain the Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF), which is used to evaluate the severity of a patient's asthma
    • demonstrations on how to use an inhaler, and how to instruct patients to use their inhaler effectively
    • how to record the correct information on each patient's personal treatment card and on the clinic's patient register

The progress of the program is being documented in order to draw attention to the burden of asthma in low- and middle-income countries and to publicize ways of addressing that burden.