Two in every Ten children suffer from asthma
Two in every 10 children aged between 12 and 15 have been found with symptoms of asthma, a respiratory condition that often presents with breathing difficulties, cough and wheezing among others.
Researchers at Makerere University Lung Institute screened 895 students attending secondary school in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts since 2018, and found that 177 of them had symptoms associated with asthma.
According to Dr Rebecca Nantanda, a consultant paediatrician and lung expert who led the study team, only 33.9 per cent of those that screened positive knew they were living with asthma and the majority were unaware despite having symptoms.
Worse still, 64 of the students had severe symptoms but had never been accurately diagnosed, and some were being treated for something different.
Previously, the institute had conducted studies among children and adults to determine the prevalence of the condition, but data among adolescents had been missing.
Now, new data finds that among this age group, only less than half of those who knew they had the condition had controlled disease with limited attacks and less need for medication.
Nantanda says that managing asthma is not all about treatment, but that a number of lifestyle changes that can help a sufferer to live a normal life are recommended when someone is diagnosed.
She says it’s worrying that health workers have been treating without actually knowing that they are treating asthma.
Dr Frank Mugabe, the Principal Medical Officer in charge of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at the Ministry of Health, told URN that training is only piecemeal as health workers rely on what they studied while still in medical school to diagnose asthma.