Society streamlines treatment for Asthma patients

The Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS) on Tuesday said there is need to streamline treatment options in the management of Asthma in Nigeria to meet international standards of practices.To attain the standard, the society has initiated the “Guideline for Asthma Management in Nigeria’’, launched on Tuesday in Lagos.

The National President of NTS, Prof. Etete Peters,said in Lagos that the management of asthma in Nigeria over the decades has involved diverse therapeutic approaches.He spoke on the sidelines of the guidelines’ launch.

The professor said that the issue of managing asthma is very challenging due to different methodologies used in its treatment, adding that some people adopt “unorthodox methods of treatment , he said. He also said that was what gave rise to the need for a concise treatment which was initiated in Uyo, Akwa ibom state in 2015.

Prof. Gregory Erhabor, Chairman, National Asthma Committee, said that asthma is an inflammatory disease that affects the lungs, causing episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing.

Erhabor, a Consultant Pulmonologist and professor of Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, said that asthma had to do with genetic pre-dispositions.“If the family has asthma history or allergies, one becomes predisposed to acquiring the disease.Asthma is a great killer in the world; annually, about a quarter of a million people die globally from asthma.Although we do not have written statistics here, we know that a lot of people equally die from asthma in Nigeria.They die because their conditions are poorly diagnosed, under-treated and they do not have the right guidelines for treating their conditions. Globally, guidelines are set but they have to be adapted to the local images and peculiarities.So, with the Nigeria Asthma Guidelines, what we are trying to get is local peculiarities toward  helping the physician, healthcare providers, pharmacies and even the patient, on the proper way to manage asthma,’’ he said.

According to Erhabor, who is also the President of Asthma and Chest Care Foundation, this will help to reduce the burden of the disease.

On the significance of the guidelines, he said “Almost every nation of the world has a guideline, but there is a global guideline which we call the Global Initiative for Management of Asthma (GIMA).However, we are creating a Nigerian guideline which will be useful to Nigeria and the West African sub-region as there is no other guideline in West Africa; South Africa has one.Again, not everything that is done globally for the management of asthma can be applicable to Nigeria because some of the drugs are not affordable and may not even be available”, he said.

“Also, some of the drugs have their way of working due to genetic predispositions; so, every year, we will look at what is new and upgrade the guidelines.This guideline will be distributed to hospitals, medical centres, medical schools and teaching hospitals; people will now have a way of managing asthma.We hope to distribute as many copies as possible, to make it accessible online and also include it in medical journals,’’ he added.

Erhabor said that asthma could also be triggered by environmental conditions, including house dust, stressful situations, exercise and allergies.

“Some drugs, some occupation, laboratory and climatic conditions can also trigger attack in asthmatics.Attacks are common in early mornings and late at nights; if one does not have attacks in the night, then it may not be asthma. Some symptoms of asthma include cough, restlessness and allergies,’’ Erhabor said.

Also, Dr Emmanuel Alabi, Past Membership Director and Administrative Secretary, NTS, said the guidelines set is the first of its kind in Sub -Saharan Africa.

He said that most countries have guidelines which direct asthma caregivers on ways to manage the disease in a written document, which is usually revised from time to time. He also noted that Nigeria having such guidelines too, is a great achievement.

He, however, urged all practitioners in asthma management to adhere to the guidelines.