Public Health Infrastructure

The American Lung Association worked with partners to develop the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda to reduce the suffering and death from asthma. We hope that groups and individuals who care about asthma will embrace the recommendations found in the Agenda and push to get them put in place nationwide. The policy agenda recognizes that, to succeed in our fight against asthma, we must make changes at the federal, state, and local levels, and usually, we act on many issues at the same time.

A strong public health infrastructure is essential to reduce the burden of asthma in the United States. This infrastructure should recognize that asthma is both a chronic and environmental disease and address disparities across populations. It should also emphasize the collection and analysis of data that will help develop or improve asthma programs. In each state, multiple groups, agencies and individuals are fighting asthma, but sometimes their efforts are uncoordinated. Coordination among these groups is essential.

By encouraging policymakers to help create a solid public health infrastructure, you could help all those affected by asthma and other lung diseases. Included are the 3 policy recommendations relating to public health infrastructure that are in the National Asthma Policy Agenda:

  1. Every state should have an adopted and adequately funded comprehensive state plan to reduce asthma morbidity and mortality. Asthma plans bring together the work of multiple partners that are committed to reducing the effects of asthma in their state.
  2. Every state should have an adequately funded statewide asthma program. Asthma programs are vehicles for implementing state asthma plans. These programs should receive substantial funding in order to employ comprehensive plans that reach all those affected by asthma.

    Strategies:

    • CDC should provide estimates, by state, of what would constitute adequate funding.
  3. The United States should institute a comprehensive, nationwide asthma surveillance system. Surveillance data enhance our understanding of the problem, provide information to develop a response, and allow outcomes to be monitored.

    Strategies:

    • The surveillance system should track asthma incidence, prevalence, morbidity and mortality, and coordinate with other disease tracking efforts.

    The surveillance system should collect and report nationally consistent data on health-care access and use (not just hospital discharge data) by patients’ race, ethnicity, occupation, socioeconomic status and primary language.