New Jersey Releases Asthma Strategic Plan
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today released the New Jersey Asthma Strategic Plan 2008-2013, which focuses on reducing asthma disparities and increasing awareness of the management and treatment of this chronic respiratory disease.
“Asthma represents a serious and compelling public health problem in New Jersey,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “Although asthma affects people of all ages, races and ethnic groups, low-income and minority populations experience substantially higher rates of fatalities, hospital admissions and emergency room visits due to asthma.’’
Asthma is the most common chronic disease for children in New Jersey. An estimated 218,914 children, or 10 percent, have asthma. Approximately eight percent of adults (516,088) have asthma. The estimated number of women with asthma, 345,877, is more than double the estimated number of men with asthma (170,201). In addition, black, non-Hispanic adults have a prevalence rate that is 10 percent higher than other minority populations.
Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled so that people are able to lead active and healthy lives. Missed school days, lost work days, Emergency Department visits, hospitalizations and deaths can be prevented by recognizing the warning signs of an attack and avoiding things that could trigger an attack such as tobacco smoke, dust mites and outdoor air pollution.
By controlling asthma, individuals can reduce symptoms like wheezing or coughing; reduce work and school-related absences and increase physical activities.
The Strategic Plan recommends ways to address asthma disparities and implement initiatives that provide individuals with the tools they need to manage their disease.
The Plan identifies the following strategies to reduce and eliminate asthma in New Jersey:
* Reduce exposure to outdoor and indoor asthma environmental triggers
* Improve health care delivery for asthma patients through collaborative professional and patient education initiatives
* Reduce emergency department visits by developing a model that improves asthma management by incorporating discharge instructions, education, referral and follow-up for people with asthma who present in the ED.
* Improve prevention and management of asthma and asthma triggers among members of child care and school communities
* Empower patients, providers and the public to prevent, manage and treat asthma through education, awareness and communication
* Advocate for legislation that would ensure access to asthma education
* Reduce disparities by developing initiatives that focus on social factors of health, with an emphasis on women, children, the elderly, minority populations and residents in high priority areas.