HEALTH CARE; Finding Solutions

Article excerpt

Few people think of asthma as much of a health care problem - not with cancer, heart disease and AIDS taking their deadly tolls. But it's worse than many realize.

In fact, according to figures released at a recent Duval County Health Department news conference, about 15 asthma patients are treated in emergency rooms here every day.

And asthma involves disparities. Women and blacks are disproportionately affected; African-Americans are three times more likely than whites to be treated for it in an emergency room.

Young people, particularly, suffer here.

Those from 1 to 4 and 5 to 14, news conference literature shows, are most likely to be treated in an emergency room.

As they grow older, the symptoms get worse - and more costly to treat.

Why the problems?

Many afflicted don't have a primary physician, so they wait too long for treatments. Often, they go to an emergency room, where the attack is treated - but not the long-term problem.

Some solutions, as suggested by health professionals at the news conference:

- Better access to primary care. …