A breath of fresh air: Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition launches

August 29, 2012

Today the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) announced the launch of the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition, a multi-sector group of advocates and experts dedicated to raising awareness and advancing public policies to improve the health of children who suffer from asthma.

Asthma is the single most common chronic condition among . Approximately 7.1 million children suffer from asthma, a number that has been rising over the past decade. SPHHS and its partners – the Merck Network, Inc. (MCAN), the nation's only organization focused solely on childhood asthma; and First Focus, a bipartisan children's – have established the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition to address this growing public challenge, which disproportionately affects low-income and minority children.

"In some communities, an estimated 40 percent of all children are living with asthma," said Katie Horton, R.N., M.P.H., J.D., a lead investigator on the project and a research professor within SPHHS's Department of Health Policy. "Using findings from evidence-based research, the Coalition hopes to identify real-world solutions to curtail the rising rates of asthma and help keep kids with asthma healthy."

Asthma is a disease that affects the airways of the lungs and causes wheezing and breathing difficulties. Certain factors that trigger asthma, such as or a history of allergies, may not be amenable to change. But key risk factors that may cause or exacerbate – such as exposure to , allergens and irritants found in , and outdoor air pollutants – can be addressed through in homes, schools and other places where children live, learn and play.

Since reducing the burden of asthma on children and families requires a multi-pronged approach to address many underlying factors, the new Coalition includes a cross-section of experts from a variety of fields including housing, environmental health, health care delivery, health economics and public policy.

"Asthma is the leading cause of missed school days. The Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition's work is important because keeping kids with asthma healthy gives them a better chance to succeed in school and life," said First Focus President Bruce Lesley. "This Coalition will play a critical role in informing the policy decisions that affect kids with asthma," he said.

By working collaboratively, the Coalition aims to accelerate prevention and improve the diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of childhood asthma through targeted state and federal efforts. In particular, the Coalition intends to work with leaders from the multiple federal agencies charged with implementing the new Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities to develop concrete, actionable policy solutions that reduce the burden of asthma for children living in low-income and medically-underserved communities.

The Coalition will also address barriers that prevent children from accessing the healthcare services they need to control and manage asthma. Children with asthma need a stable source of health insurance and access to health care providers in their communities that can offer case management and health education. However, an estimated 9 percent of children with asthma have no health insurance, and many more live in regions without adequate access to quality care. These gaps in coverage and accessibility leave children vulnerable to frequent asthma attacks, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

The Affordable Care Act offers many new opportunities for children to receive high quality clinical care, case management and health care education, and to become enrolled in Medicaid and private insurance. The Coalition will highlight these and other opportunities to ensure children with asthma get the coverage and care they need to keep their disease in check.

"MCAN looks forward to sharing with the Coalition what it has learned from years of implementing science-based childhood asthma management programs in some of the country's most at-risk communities," said Floyd Malveaux, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of MCAN and former Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University. "We don't know everything about childhood , but we know enough to be helping more children and their families. This Coalition is a big step in the right direction."

Explore further: Lack of health insurance linked to fewer asthma diagnoses in children

Related Stories

Lack of health insurance linked to fewer asthma diagnoses in children

October 27, 2011
Providing health insurance to more children could lead to diagnosing additional cases of mild or intermittent asthma, a new study shows. Some who treat childhood asthma say this could increase the number of kids receiving ...

Missed sleep may contribute to asthma morbidity

July 17, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Missed sleep may contribute to asthma morbidity in urban children, according to a study published in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Increased risk of developing asthma by age of 3 after cesarean section

January 10, 2012
A new study supports previous findings that children delivered by cesarean section have an increased risk of developing asthma. The study from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) suggests that children delivered ...

Recommended for you

Bioengineers imagine the future of vaccines and immunotherapy

December 14, 2017
In the not-too-distant future, nanoparticles delivered to a cancer patient's immune cells might teach the cells to destroy tumors. A flu vaccine might look and feel like applying a small, round Band-Aid to your skin.

Immune cells turn back time to achieve memory

December 13, 2017
Memory T cells earn their name by embodying the memory of the immune system - they help the body remember what infections or vaccines someone has been exposed to. But to become memory T cells, the cells go backwards in time, ...

Steroid study sheds light on long term side effects of medicines

December 13, 2017
Fresh insights into key hormones found in commonly prescribed medicines have been discovered, providing further understanding of the medicines' side effects.

The immune cells that help tumors instead of destroying them

December 12, 2017
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths. One of the most promising ways to treat it is by immunotherapy, a strategy that turns the patient's immune system against the tumor. In the past twenty years, ...

Cancer gene plays key role in cystic fibrosis lung infections

December 12, 2017
PTEN is best known as a tumor suppressor, a type of protein that protects cells from growing uncontrollably and becoming cancerous. But according to a new study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), PTEN has a second, ...

Researchers bring new insight into Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a devastating genetic disease

December 12, 2017
A team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health and University of Manchester have uncovered new insights into a rare genetic disease, with less than 500 cases of the disease on record, which devastates the lives ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.