ASTHMA CAMPAIGN: Asthma `Causing Greater Harm Than Aids' Says UN

By sc | The Independent (London, England), April 28, 2002 | Go to article overview
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ASTHMA CAMPAIGN: Asthma `Causing Greater Harm Than Aids' Says UN

sc, The Independent (London, England)

By Severin Carrell

The upsurge in asthma in young children in western Europe is causing greater economic and social damage than either TB or HIV, the World Health Organisation has warned.

The United Nations agency believes the disease is one of the most serious health threats suffered by children in Europe, and is now as significant as cancer, accidental injuries and nervous disorders.

"Pediatric asthma is a major public health concern in Europe and represents an enormous burden on family and society," the WHO said.

Its stark assessment came in a report on the links between childhood ill-health and the environment, which was published by the WHO and the European Environment Agency last week in Copenhagen as part of a week- long European Commission environment festival.

It will be sent to health ministers and is likely to increase pressure on the Government to step up its spending on preventive measures, medical research and on improving treatments for sufferers. In parallel with the campaign by the Independent on Sunday to tackle the disease, the WHO urges European governments to cut urban air pollution, reduce traffic levels in high pollution areas and tackle indoor air pollution. It says that further research is also needed: investigating the environmental triggers for asthma and finding the most effective ways of cutting indoor and outdoor pollution.

The report argues that asthma drains healthcare resources through treatment, long-term or permanent medication costs and emergencies. But it also has serious indirect costs, such as days lost from school and the effects on a child's academic performance in reading and problem-solving skills, their attention spans and social interaction.

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ASTHMA CAMPAIGN: Asthma `Causing Greater Harm Than Aids' Says UN


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