Asthma Policy Statement

Policy Principle on Asthma

The American Lung Association strongly supports measures to prevent asthma, reduce the incidence of asthma, prevent the exacerbation of asthma, improve treatment of asthma patients and increase their access to appropriate health care. Such measures should eliminate the disparity in asthma morbidity and mortality prevalence for low socioeconomic and minority populations. In addition, the American Lung Association supports developing and implementing a strong, comprehensive public health response to asthma including public education and outreach, research, legislation, regulation and litigation.

Asthma Management in Child Care Facilities
The American Lung Association supports unobstructed access to asthma medication in child care facilities so that child care personnel can assist in the management of their participant’s asthma. Children who can self-manage their asthma should have unobstructed access to asthma medication. Child care personnel should receive appropriate training in asthma management.

Asthma Medication in Schools
The American Lung Association supports unobstructed access to asthma medication in schools so students can self-manage their asthma. The American Lung Association recommends that each student with asthma have an asthma management and crisis plan that includes self-management at school. School personnel should receive appropriate training in asthma management.

Healthy People 2010
The American Lung Association supports measures to implement the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 goals for asthma:

  • Reduce deaths from asthma
  • Reduce hospitalizations from asthma
  • Reduce hospital emergency department visits for asthma
  • Reduce activity limitations among persons with asthma
  • Reduce the number of school or work days missed by persons with asthma due to asthma
  • Increase the proportion of persons with asthma who receive formal patient education, including information about community and self-help resources, as an
    essential part of management of their condition
  • Increase the proportion of persons with asthma who receive appropriate asthma care according to the NAEPP (National Asthma Education and Prevention
    Program) Guidelines
  • Establish in at least 15 states a surveillance system for tracking asthma death, illness, disability, impact of occupational and environmental factors on asthma,
    access to medical care and asthma management
  • Improve the quality of life for individuals with asthma

Public Health Programs
The American Lung Association supports funding for federal, state and local asthma public health programs including personnel, surveillance (including data collection, use and dissemination) and public health interventions. The American Lung Association supports the development of a national asthma action plan coordinated by the U.S. Surgeon General.

School Nurses
The American Lung Association supports healthful school environments and appropriate access to health care professionals in schools. Each school should have at a minimum one school nurse to serve as a resource for students with asthma. The American Lung Association supports the National Association of School Nurse recommendation of one school health nurse to no more than 750 students in the general school population.

School and Child Care Facility Environments
Schools and child care facilities should be safe and healthful environments. The American Lung Association supports the adoption of protective indoor air quality guidelines for schools and child care facilities. The American Lung Association supports policies that protect students and faculty from elevated levels of outdoor air pollution.

Registries
Disease registries are systems developed to provide a continuous account of the prevalence of disease in a community. The American Lung Association believes that the use of freestanding asthma registries in public health settings should be discouraged and does not support the use of governmental resources to develop or maintain such registries. Asthma is a disease with a high prevalence rate and diagnostic challenges, making registration of cases impractical. Existing administrative registries (such as those used by health maintenance organizations) may provide useful information for research purposes in a more cost effective way, and should be utilized for such purposes, providing patient privacy can be ensured.

Population-based Asthma Screening
Screening is defined as the presumptive identification of unrecognized disease or defect by the application of tests or other procedures utilized to sort out those persons who probably have a disease from those who do not. The American Lung Association, at present, does not support the use of public funds for widespread asthma screening as an effective means of identifying people with asthma. The natural history of asthma is not well defined, and no simple screening test or examination currently exists. The American Lung Association does support awareness campaigns that focus on individuals. With limited resources, priority should be placed on increasing awareness of asthma symptoms and securing funding to ensure proper diagnosis and appropriate care.