While some asthmatics have complained of the high cost of drugs, Consultant Pulmonologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH) Ile-Ife Osun State, Professor Gregory Erhabor, has called on the government to include some of the drugs in the essential drug list to save more lives.
He made the call at an awareness programme on ‘Stop for Asthma’ organised by the Asthma and Chest Care Foundation (ACCF) in partnership with Breathe Easy Foundation to commemorate World Asthma Day 2019 in Osun State recently.
Erhabor, who harped on the subsidisation of asthma drugs, as well as its availability, said government should focus on working with NGOs to increase awareness to educate the people and see whether some of these drugs for asthma could be put in the essential drug list and made available.
He said: “In my view, asthma affects 15 million Nigerians. When these patients go to work, they cannot work and in some cases are absent. This can alter the growth of a child and affect the functionality of an adult.
“Over the years, there has been increase in awareness on asthma. Now, people eventually know the symptoms of the disease. They now know how to control and monitor it.”
He, however bemoaned the restriction in awareness, adding that “rural areas are not aware of asthma; hence, ACCF and the BEF are trying to spread that awareness around”.
The prof, who is also the managing director of ACCF, said for awareness to get to rural areas, the government, through the Ministry of Health, must spearhead educational processes.
The pulmonologist said some pregnant patients may not have triggers because of some of the hormones that are present during pregnancy, adding that: “but for reasons we don’t know, pregnancy may worsen asthma for some people. What we say is that when people with asthma get pregnant, they will need therapy. There are drugs they can use”.
To help manage asthma better, Erhabor listed some triggers to include: inhaling of fumes, pepper, dust and cold, noting that asthma patients should avoid where they grind pepper, cook with woods or burning of refuse and that they should clad themselves properly when the weather is cold.
The Founder, BEF, Mrs. Akinwumi Aderonke, who lost her younger sister, Lara to asthma attack, distributed drugs to patients for free at the awareness programme
She said: “Late Lara, who was based in the UK, died of asthma attack. She came to Nigeria in 2009 for a visit. On the way back to abroad while in Nigeria, her asthma triggered”.
“Sadly, Lara was rushed to a general hospital in Lagos where she died. There was no gas, no oxygen and she died.
“Consequently, the family decided on what to do in remembrance of this brilliant lady, who was working with BBC over there until her untimely death. We decided that if we could save a soul, we could save a thousand.
“And for about five years now, we have been in partnership with ACCF in Osun State and in partnership with UCH, Ibadan. We can solve the triggers of asthma and we can still control it.”