Resources for state health and environment agencies working together to reduce asthma in children. Sponsored by ECOS.

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What strategies have been developed to address asthma at the international level?

The World Health Organization works with health authorities around the world to improve management of asthma in children and to prevent attacks. The most recent strategy document from WHO was issued in 1999 and addresses a wide array of topics. (1) This strategy focused primarily on research needs but also recommended that environmental tobacco smoke be avoided; that children with asthma avoid dust mite and animal dander; that patient education programs be used to increase knowledge about asthma and management.

What strategies have been developed to address asthma in the US?

The federal agencies worked on a strategy to address environmental factors that contribute to asthma, issued in 2000. (2)  Key recommendations include:

>> more research to find environmental factors that contribute to onset of asthma and to develop strategies to improve quality of life for people with asthma; >> expanded state and local public health action towards education, tracking of disease, and coalitions for prevention; >> reduction of children's exposures to asthma triggers such as environmental tobacco smoke in their homes; >> continued reductions in outdoor air pollution; >> establishing school-based programs to reduce triggers in schools and assist children to manage asthma and participate in activities; >> to reduce disparate impact of asthma on children of color and improve asthma management for children within the Medicaid program.

The strategy included, as guiding principles, a commitment to focus on disproportionate impacts of asthma on children of color and those living in poverty and emphasis on partnerships and community-based programs

What kind of strategies have been proposed for the Catching Your Breath Conference?

The focus of the conference is to look at strategies for how state health authorities and state environmental authorities can work together toward prevention of asthma attacks.

The focus of this conference is complementary to work to improve medical management and treatment of asthma and the sponsoring organizations stand in support of these efforts.

A steering committee of state agency representatives have worked with staff from the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the US Environmental Protection Agency, and with a contractor to analyze what states are doing now to address asthma in children and to identify possible opportunities for integration of health and environment efforts. A draft vision statement and action agenda have been prepared and circulated for the meeting.

One of the purposes of the conference is to work on the vision statement and action agenda.

What will happen after the meeting?

The work completed at the Catching Your Breath conference will be sent back to ECOS and ASTHO for further review and consideration, through the normal process of these organizations.


References Cited

1. World Health Organization. Prevention and Allergy and Asthma Interim Report. Based on WHO Meeting on the Primary Prevention of Asthma. 5-6 December 1999, Geneva. Management of Noncommunicable Diseases Department, Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Arthritis. 1999.

2. President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children. Asthma and the Environment: A Strategy to Protect Children. Revised May 2000.
In PDF format at EPA --

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Last updated July 6, 2001 | Send questions or comments to | © Copyright 2001 Amy D. Kyle

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