Lung Association Forges National Agenda for Asthma

(April 1, 2010)

More than 20 million Americans have asthma, and it is the leading chronic illness among children in the U.S.  Working with national partners, the American Lung Association has developed a National Asthma Public Policy Agenda, to identify steps that can reduce the burden of asthma. The latest evidence for support of the agenda came with the Agenda's publication in the December issue of the journal Pediatric Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

 In 2008, the American Lung Association convened a conference of policy leaders and asthma experts to identify public policies that, if implemented at the local, state and federal levels, would reduce the rates of illness and death from asthma.

The group agreed upon 19 policy recommendations that were later developed into the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda . The project establishes a blueprint for national asthma policy that advocates and organizations around the nation can embrace. Among the many signs that this agenda is taking hold is the publication of the Lung Association's white paper on the agenda in the prestigious journal Pediatric Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

The agenda recommends a strategic set of policy priorities that impact many areas, including clean air laws,  medical guidelines, housing codes, and employee protections.  This multi-faceted approach is more comprehensive than previously published asthma policy documents, and reflects the broad interests of the American Lung Association and the complex needs of people with asthma.

A successful fight against asthma requires intervention at different levels simultaneously and the use of tools beyond those normally used in the medical care of the disease.  It also requires the participation of diverse stakeholders, such as physicians and health-care providers, who remain crucial players in changing asthma policy. By using their expertise to influence public policy, physicians can improve the health of those with asthma and reduce the suffering and death from the disease. Involvement can be at an individual or collective level. 

Support Needed from Health-Care Professionals

The participation of physicians and other health-care professionals is essential for asthma policy change.  Health-care professionals should join the voices of nonprofit and professional organizations that address public health issues, such as the American Lung Association or the American Academy of Pediatrics, which have actively sought to change policies, including those involving air pollution.

Policy change efforts should not only address medical care, but must also target the environmental and other factors that have been linked to asthma. Individual physicians can also effectively promote change by serving as spokespeople and providing testimony to policymakers. Legislators and policymakers give much credence to stories told by health-care providers describing the impact of policies, or proposed policy changes, on their patients.

If you are a physician or other health-care professional, and want to join our fight against asthma, contact the American Lung Association to learn more.

Related links: