Mobile asthma services could help reduce the gap in rural healthcare
This World Asthma Day, Tuesday 3 May, the Institute for Respiratory Health is spotlighting the gaps in asthma care in our community.
Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, it affects one in nine Australians or 2.7 million people. It has various degrees of severity (mild to severe) and affects people of all ages.
It is a long-term inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs and can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
While asthma cannot be cured permanently, it can be controlled to an extent that the symptoms become negligible and can be managed by patients.
Dr John Blakey, a respiratory physician and researcher at the Institute for Respiratory Health said that in Western Australia there were gaps in equal access to diagnosis and treatment.
“Many people simply don’t travel for many hours from Broome, Geraldton, Exmouth, Esperance, Kalgoorlie and Margaret River for simple tests to get a proper diagnosis in the first place.
“Poor care leads to lower quality of life and lower achievement at school or work and impaired physical social function,” said Dr John Blakey.
“A huge chunk of the population in these regions are needlessly suffering breathlessness and the side effects of steroid tablets.
“Corticosteroid tablets are an area of concern as they can cause severe side effects, especially when taken too often.
“What we need is mobile vans providing support in the regions – helping those most at risk,” Dr John Blakey said.
“Health professionals can then ensure that those with asthma receive the correct care and right dose of oral corticosteroids (no more than is needed) when needed, with an informed understanding of how they can help and what the risks are.
“We need to reduce the gaps across many areas – in regional areas; but also through better communication and education and between wealthy and poorer communities.
“Asthma attacks remain stubbornly common.”